MARINE CORPS CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The California air sat still as the sun rose over a compound in Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, however, the facility they entered has little in common with the large military base filled with all the amenities found in a small U.S. town. Marines entered the compound from the northwest gate on the alert and prepared for anything as they did not know what lay before them.
Marines with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, participated in a Battalion Field Exercise at the Infantry Immersion Trainer aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Calif., July 16-18, 2014. During the exercise, Marines conducted patrols through urban terrain provided by the IIT.
The IIT provides a training facility for practical application of tactical skills and decision making in an immersive, scenario-based training environment.
The patrols led the Marines through heavily populated areas with role players acting as local nationals in a notional area of conflict.
Corporal Raymundo Mendez, 23, from Riverside, Calif., squad leader with Company E, said that the role players helped make the training more realistic.
“We’ve been doing patrols and implementing towns with role-players,” said Mendez. “It adds more of a stressful situation and more of a real scenario.”
The realistic environment is meant to create reactions from the Marines that you won’t get from normal training that lacks realistic role players and scenarios.
"If Marines believe they are in danger they will duck away from it and react," said Robert Thielen, the site manager for the Infantry Immersion Trainer. "When we see the Marines yelling and taking action, we know that they believe this environment is real, which is exactly what this training is meant to do."
The IIT also gives the young Marines a good feel for what they one day may encounter and he is confident that it will give them a better understanding of military operations in urban terrain.
“If we get deployed to a combat zone these Marines will already have a basic feel for what the real thing is going to be like,” said Mendez.
Captain Robert Porter, 29, from Clinton, Md., the Company E commanding officer was impressed with their performance at the IIT.
Porter said his Marines have shown great leadership and understanding of their roles on the battlefield.
“The team leaders have a grasp on their Marines,” said Porter, “…the squad leaders are using their team leaders to fight.”
Porter said it gave good opportunities for squad leaders to learn how to carry out missions from beginning to end and gain important lessons throughout the training.
“The IIT can offer a lot of good opportunities,” said Porter. “It allows the squad leaders to conduct mission analysis, brief the squad and work through the mechanics of this training.