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1/5 Marines participate in CHBEX

18 Mar 2009 | Lance Cpl. John McCall

Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, participated in a Clear, Hold and Build Exercise here Mar.18.

The company exercise marked the halfway point of Mojave Viper, a month-long desert warfare training requirement for Marines scheduled to deploy.

“The training is intense and draining, but it gets you mentally ready,” said Lance Cpl. Moises G. Espinal, 19, a team leader with 1/5 from Fairfax, Va. “It keeps you in a combat mindset.

When we get to Afghanistan it’s going to be very important because we’re fighting an enemy we can’t see.”

For the Company CHBEX Marines assaulted and cleared out a mock Afghan town, set up a defense and built a relationship with the local townspeople. This exercise mirrors what the unit is expecting.

“These company-size exercises help a lot because when were in Afghanistan at least we’ll have experience with them,” said Lance Cpl. David R. Moore, 21, a grenadier with 1/5 from Bullhead City, Ariz. “I definitely feel we’re getting better, starting to understand the concept.”

It was a live fire exercise incorporating Shoulder-fired Multi-purpose

Assault Weapons, Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching systems and small-arms machine gun fire to help depict a real-world operation.

“Until we’re over there and people are actually shooting at us, we won’t be one hundred percent prepared mentally,” said Moore. “But I do think these exercises are a big help.”

Shooting live rounds and setting off explosives makes for more realistic training; normally Marines aren’t given that opportunity.

“We don’t use live ammo a lot, so every chance we get to put rounds down range is a good time,” said Moore.

With half of Mojave Viper complete, Marines are becoming more anxious to finish up and go home but are staying focused on the important training at hand as they continue to prepare for war.