MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Silence was abruptly broken as more than 10 UH-1Y Huey helicopters containing a company of Marines stormed an “enemy” infested training town here, Oct. 9.
Marines with Animal Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, fast roped and inserted into the town to simulate assaulting an enemy stronghold during a raid exercise.
“Their objective was to capture a high-ranking terrorist,” said Sgt. Jacob Cummins, a rifleman with Animal Co.
Prior to the assault, more than 20 Marines from the company were designated as enemy role players and were given a few hours to set up traps and obstacles throughout the town to challenge the Marines.
The simulated combatants attempted to hinder the Marines’ mission and responded with small-arms fire as the assault force entered the town. Marines struck training mines and traps as they moved through the town, but continued to move forward and ultimately eliminated the combatants.
“Our goal as the enemy was to make it as challenging as possible for the Marines,” said Cpl. Brandon Sisco, a mortar section leader with Animal Co. and a native of Bakersfield, Calif. “We set up obstacles throughout the town to tunnel the Marines into certain locations and get them to go where we wanted. In combination with tunneling the Marines, we set up mines and booby traps to cause mass casualties. By getting them to recognize signs of danger now during training, it’s going to prepare the Marines that much more for when they arrive in (Afghanistan).”
As the company pressed onward through the training town, the designated platoon breached the area containing the high-ranking individual. The platoon climbed over walls to enter the area and proceeded to clear each house with caution, as there could be combatants or traps around any corner.
“We’re trying to build muscle memory in every one of these Marines so they know exactly what to do when things get bad,” said Cummins, a native of Phoenix. “We could be moving to the next building we’re going to clear while there are enemies on rooftops when the Marine in front of you steps on an improvised explosive device. It’s been said the more you train in peace, the less you bleed in war. We’re trying to give these Marines all the training we can to prepare them for whatever comes their way.”
After clearing the town of insurgents, the Marines gathered any useful intelligence from the town and discovered the high-ranking individual hiding in a well. With the intelligence in hand and the individual detained, the Marines proceeded to their extract point and were taken back to their simulated forward operating base via UH-1Y Huey helicopters.
The Marines were given a thorough debrief once they arrived at the forward operating base, pertaining to how they performed and discussed what they could improve during future training and operations.
The battalion is slated to continue predeployment training before deploying to Afghanistan this spring.