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Marines use teamwork to prepare for final exercise

15 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. John McCall 1st Marine Division

Teamwork is something instilled in Marines during boot camp and is carried on throughout their tour of duty, and teamwork was present in Marines training for war at Mojave Viper.

Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment participated in a clear-hold-build exercise here Mar. 26.

This was the third and final clear-hold-build exercise of Mojave Viper, the most advanced desert warfare training the Marine Corps offers units preparing to deploy.

“We did a battalion-size attack,” said Lance Cpl. Levi Drinville, an automatic rifleman with Company B, 1st Bn., 5th Marines, from Tucson, Ariz.  “After our objective was clear, we provided overwatch for the other companies while they secured their objective.”

This live-fire assault used anti-personnel obstacle breaching systems set by combat engineers, putting Marines into a situation where a combat mindset was essential.

“Working with explosives and live rounds makes the training much more realistic,” said Drinville.  “Dealing with combined arms lets you see more of the big picture. It shows how there are a lot of moving parts to what we do.”

This was the first exercise where the battalion worked together to complete one mission.  Using what they have learned while training at Mojave Viper, the troops completed their many objectives as a group.

“It taught us how to work together as a battalion,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew Aadland, 20, a rifleman with Co. B from Rapid City, S.D.  “The training does what it’s supposed to do; it sums up everything we’ve done so far.”

One purpose of this exercise was to help prepare the battalion for their final exercise.  All the training received at Mojave Viper leads up to a final exercise where the battalion will apply everything they’ve learned during their pre-deployment training.

“So far we’ve been practicing a lot of conventional warfare, where you have set targets and enemy,” said Aadland. “What we’re doing next is more like counter-insurgency where we have to go house-to-house trying to find the bad guys.”

Much of Mojave Viper’s training exercises are located in some of California’s most mountainous areas, designed to create an environment similar to that of Afghanistan.

“Being out here training in this terrain is good,” Drinville said.  “From what I’ve heard this area is similar to what we’ll be dealing with in Afghanistan.”

Nearing the end of Mojave Viper, Marines have a better understanding of what to expect when deployed to Afghanistan and how to deal with the many challenges that lay ahead.

“This training is very demanding,” said Aadland.  “But the hardest part is just being gone for such a long period of time.”

1st Marine Division