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Sgt. Garrett Mellor, a gunner with Delta Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, scouts targets for a call for fire during Exercise Desert Scimitar aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., May 13, 2014. Mellor, from Arlington, Texas, operates a M242 25mm cannon, an M240B machine gun and two 4-barrel smoke grenade launchers.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Angel Serna

1st LAR participates in Desert Scimitar

28 May 2014 | Lance Cpl. Angel Serna

Marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion conducted a combined-arms, live-fire exercise here May 12-16.

The training was part of Exercise Desert Scimitar, a large-scale exercise involving air, ground and logistical elements of I Marine Expeditionary Force. It tested 1st Marine Division’s capability to act as the headquarters element for I MEF in a deployed environment and provided the opportunity for supporting units like 1st LAR to hone their conventional warfighting skills.

1st LAR’s ability to use multiple weapon systems and to operate with other units such as tanks, bolstered the quality of support they provided to the RCTs explained Capt. Chester Carter, commanding officer of Delta Company. 

“There was integration of quick-fire plans and fire-support teams into a company scheme of maneuver so that we truly used combined-arms operations,” he added.

Many of 1st LAR’s crews are new to the Marine Corps’ operating forces and the exercise gave them an opportunity to operate as a battalion said Sgt. Garrett Mellor, a gunner with the company.

“We had a lot of good training, even down to all the new Marines,” said Mellor. “We made sure we were teaching the new drivers how to drive and the new gunners were being taught the ins and outs of the guns. From top to bottom, everyone received a learning experience.”

Not only was the exercise physically challenging, it required the Marines to change their thinking by developing a mindset of focusing on the long-term impact of the exercise.

“The primary change was maturity,” said Mellor. “Younger Marines started to grasp the concept of the training by being not as concerned about themselves, and they started to see the bigger picture.”

The exercise improved 1st LAR’s overall character and helped Marines practice essential skills necessary to become a well-run and organized unit.

“The training impacted us by helping build cohesiveness,” said Carter. “It’s the first time we’ve been able to go from start to finish; working through a problem and building a plan, then executing that plan as a whole.”

Exercises like Desert Scimitar help to ensure mission readiness and unit cohesion. Marines from 1st LAR are better prepared for future operations and they continue to maintain a state of readiness.