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Lance Corporal Tom Conchie, Zealand Army soldier serving with 2nd, 1st Battalion, provides security at the Infantry Immersion Trainer here during Exercise Dawn Blitz 2013, June 13. The IIT gave the New Zealander's a taste of what they might encounter in future combat operations. Dawn Blitz 2013 is a scenario-driven exercise designed to test Navy and Marine Corps forces at the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) and Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) level, while promoting military-to-military cooperation and interoperability with partnered nations.

Photo by Lance Cpl. James Gulliver

Infantry immersion trainer provides New Zealander’s realistic training scenarios

17 Jun 2013 | Lance Cpl. James Gulliver

As an explosion echoed throughout the town, shots rang out, and New Zealand Army soldiers serving with 2nd, 1st Battalion, ran for cover.

Receiving some of the most realistic training the Marine Corps has to offer, the New Zealander soldiers were given the chance to run through the Infantry Immersion Trainer here during Exercise Dawn Blitz 2013, June 13.

“Dawn Blitz been excellent for our soldiers to get a chance to experience this,” said Cpl. Daniel Woolford, a section leader serving with 2nd, 1st Battalion. “We have never been able to train at a facility such as this,” 

During this portion of Dawn Blitz, the New Zealander’s took advantage of the realism of the IIT to locate improvised explosive device components and capture role-players acting as enemy forces.

“The IIT is a realistic facility that we used to test our tactics under stress in a combat environment,” said Sgt. Sergio Jimenez, a squad leader serving with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. 
Throughout the morning, the soldiers were tested in the indoor portion of the IIT. The indoor portion provided close-quarter combat training with one-story buildings. 

After completing the indoor portion, the soldiers put their skills to the test again in the outdoor portion. The outdoor portion simulated patrolling through a city or village with the locals interacting more with the soldiers.The trainer is designed to test the New Zealander’s both physically and mentally to prepare for bi-lateral operations in urban environments.

“This really gave our soldiers a test. It’s good to see how they will react in a stressful situation,” Woolford said.

The New Zealander’s practiced dealing with local civilians, treating casualties, and clearing buildings during the training.

“The trainer is really designed to imitate what they will encounter overseas, making them more prepared for future operations,” said Jimenez, a native of Fellsmere, Fla.

After each portion of the IIT, the New Zealand soldiers were taken into a classroom to watch recordings of their sections for an after-action evaluation. The instructors went through each situation the soldiers went through and gave advice on improvements.

Woolford said the soldiers felt more confident after completing the trainer, making them more comfortable for what they might encounter in the future.

Dawn Blitz 2013 is a scenario-driven exercise designed to test Navy and Marine Corps forces at the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) and Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) level, while promoting military-to-military cooperation and interoperability with partnered nations.