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Two Marines set security in preparation of an explosive breach into an enemy compound during a training exercise aboard Camp Pendleton Calif., July 28, 2014. 1st Marine Division Schools, Urban Leaders course recently held training for Marines from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Battalion 1st Marine Regiment and 1st Combat Engineers Battalion.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Seth Starr

Urban Leaders Course: Breaking Barriers

4 Aug 2014 | Lance Cpl. Seth Starr

1st Marine Division Schools, Urban Leaders course recently held training for Marines from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Battalion 1st Marine Regiment and 1st Combat Engineers Battalion aboard Camp Pendleton Calif., July 28, 2014.

Marines participating in the three-week Urban Leader’s Course were taught the fundamentals and practical application of mechanical and explosive breaching.  The course is used as a tool to build better leaders within a hostile urban environment. 
Sgt. Leo Gonzales, a Division Schools Urban Leaders instructor, said that many students in the course are newly promoted and have been given the opportunity to hone their craft at ULC.

“A lot of junior Marines that are sent to this course are here because they’ve recently been promoted to the position of team leader and need the knowledge and experience to lead while conducting urban operations,” said Gonzales.
 
During the three-week course, students are taught the basics of both mechanical and explosive breaching, individual actions once a breach has been made, and the application of their weapons while conducting a raid.

“I think the most important thing to take away from this course is the overall attention to detail,” said Gonzales.  “We hit them with stressful situations to test their ability to retain the knowledge they’ve been given.”

The course emphasizes a heavy concentration on shooting drills merged with physical training to simulate the physical stressors of a combative environment, said Gonzales.

In addition to physical stress and the application of shoulder fired weapons, students attend class room instruction to learn the steps and procedures needed to conduct explosive breaching.

Lance Cpl. Hans Windahl, a machine gunner with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division said that learning in the classroom was necessary to learn the skills he needed to perform.

“We’ve spent time in the class room learning to calculate the net explosive weight of our charges and how to build them,” said Windahl.  “I think every infantryman should get the chance to take part in a course like this.  It’s all valuable information specifically set for our job.”

During the third week of training, students practice their knowledge and new found skills by conduct a raid and occupation of a small town.

“When these Marines graduate this course they’ll be able to go back to their units and teach their teams the fundamentals of explosive, mechanical and ballistic breaching,” said Gonzales.  “The skills we’ve taught them will aid them in leading their Marines to mission accomplishment.”