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Afghanistan-bound Marines rehearse wide range of enemy encounters

11 Aug 2009 | Cpl. Zachary J. Nola

Marines and sailors of the 7th Marine Regiment held small, training sessions during a pre-deployment exercise here July 27-Aug. 14 to prepare for a deployment to Afghanistan as part of Regimental Combat Team 7.

Marines participated in a mine-detecting, practical application, which covered improvised, explosive device attacks on vehicles, and were introduced to counter-IED systems.

Marines and sailors of the regiment were also subject to simulated attacks, including suicide bombers and indirect fire, as well as a base-wide mass casualty drill.  

The smaller sessions provide a more accurate gauge of the Marines’ combat readiness and ability to retain the information learned at more formal training exercises.

“The realism of a combat situation isn’t necessarily done when you say, “Okay, everybody get ready, at this time we’re going to do this, and this is going to happen and this is going to be your part.” It does no good,” said Gunnery Sgt. Henry J. Rimkus, Jr., the Headquarters Company gunnery sergeant for 7th Marines. “I like to keep everything as small as possible, the fewer amount of people knowing as possible, so when (the attack) comes, I can actually see [the Marines’] reaction.”

No matter how small or trivial the training may seem, it plays a role in a Marine’s combat readiness, Rimkus said.

“[The Marines] need to realize that every bit of training you get, everything you do, plays into a combat situation and it plays for combat readiness,” said Rimkus, a 33-year-old native of Great Falls, Mont. “No matter what your rank is, no matter where you are, take on every bit of training, every procedure and every [standard operating procedure]. It’s there for a reason.”

A simulated attack on the camp’s front gate was a good way to help educate some of the regiment’s junior Marines about base security, said Cpl. Daniel Lindenlaub, a rifleman who was the acting corporal-of-the-guard during the attack.

“This is vital for them,” said Lindenlaub, 25, from Layton, Utah. “They come from all the different shops, so interior guard is obviously something new to them, and also something that is very important as far as base security goes.”

The mass casualty exercise gave Marines the chance to practice coordinating with the corpsmen they will deploy with, said Petty Officer 3rd Class William Morell, a hospital corpsman with Regimental Aid Station, 7th Marine Regiment.

“There is absolutely no level you can put on this training,” said the 21-year-old Morell, from Ontario, Calif., who has previous deployment experience with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. “It’s extremely beneficial, and it’s of the upmost importance, especially for the type of environment we are going to.”

Once the training concludes in mid-August, the regiment will be better prepared to conduct counterinsurgency operations as the ground combat element for Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan.