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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Technicians hone battle skills during warrior exercise

By Pfc. Shane Buckley | | March 8, 2001

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Marines are competitive and aggressive by nature. Marines are trained to be warriors, to win -- and to prepare. If there's a contest to win, Marines enter it. If there's a sporting event, Marines play it; and if there's an exercise to do, Marines learn from it.

More than 20 Marines from the S-6 Computer Division here participated in a five-day field exercise that ended Friday. This exercise was different because the Marines continued to perform their regular daily duties.

"It was a little different and very tiring," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Joens, computer repair staff noncommissioned-officer- in-charge

"We began our day at 6 a.m. to clean-up and prepare for work and ended around midnight with the training," the Waterloo, Iowa, native added.

Throughout the week, the S-6 Marines received many classes including setting-up defense operations; operating and communicating on the PRC-119 field radio; patrolling techniques; the importance of core values; proper land navigation; and several guided discussions on morale and esprit de corps.

According to Staff Sgt. Dumont Crosby from Head-quarters Battalion's S-3 office, even though Marines are fighters and usually on the offensive, it is important to learn defensive techniques as well.

"I taught the Marines how to choose their positions, how to properly occupy and defend those positions," said Crosby, the class instructor. "We also talked about security patrols."

"Choosing a position is probably one, if not the, most important part of setting up a defense," Crosby said.

"If you think about it for a second É would you rather be in flat, open terrain or on a hill with an abundance of shrubs and trees," the Pittsburgh native added.

The Marines all agreed it was an informative and refreshing course. According to some, the humor Crosby used to keep the Marines involved in the discussion and his ability to communicate his point well, made the class easy to understand and remember.

In addition to the 'regulars' of setting up a field exercise such as setting camp, and listening and observation posts, the Marines also received a class from 1st Lt. Jermaine Gambrell, communications branch officer-in-charge and New Haven, Conn., native.

"You need to know where other units are, what assets you have at your disposal, and how to call for that assistance if it's needed," Gambrell said.

Gambrell also said the Marines discussed proper radio procedures, such as the basic operations of the field radio, how to waterproof and protect it from the elements of nature and basic trouble-shooting that a Marine may encounter in the field.

After a hard day at work and a long night in the field, the Marines bedded down and prepared to go back to work the following morning.

"It was a little different," said Sgt. Stephen Hines, computer specialist. "You wake in the field and your body feels like it should stay, but you have to get back in the swing of things for the rear and performing those job skills necessary to keep MOS [military occupational specialty] operations going," the Tabor City, N.C., native said.

The following day, with most of the administrative requirements behind them such as camp set-up and digging fighting holes, the Marines were able to actually benefit from their time in the field.

They received a class on proper patrolling techniques from Staff Sgt. Jimmie Poole, battalion training coordinator. He taught the Marines to move without leaving signs of having been in the area and the importance of noise discipline.

"You have to be quiet when on patrol," said Poole. "With varying circumstances, it can be easy to be spotted if you're not careful, especially if you're making a lot of noise."

Poole's class was followed by a guided discussion on core values with Master Gunnery Sgt. Joel Warwick, Consolidated Administration Center chief.

According to Lance Cpl. Eric Blakely, a Boston native, Warwick talked about honor, courage, commitment, and the importance of using those values in daily life. The Marines also discussed the importance of camaraderie.

"It's always good to hear the discussions on core values and their importance," Blakely said. "There's never any variation though. They are what they are."

"Master Guns [Warwick] was a good instructor. I enjoyed the open discussion we had about how the core values affected our shop the most," Blakely added.

According to Blakely, the Marines discussed how to use those values in their shops, and how to improve unit morale and camaraderie.

Day three of the training evolution began with a class from Joens and Staff Sgt. Richard Tall, from S-3.

"You have to be able to tell where you are at all times, and if for some reason you stray off course, how to get back to where you need to," Joens said.

The Marines, in two-man teams, were given three azimuths and distances to locate points. They also had to describe the terrain and precise location each team found their marks.

"The Marines did quite well, actually," Joens said, "I was quite proud."

After the two-hour land navigation class, the Marines practiced techniques learned in previous periods of military education. They employed a defensive line on their command post and inserted a patrol behind enemy lines. Learning to penetrate enemy lines also helped them learn to establish more efficient defense lines of their own.
"We saw their weaknesses and the holes in their perimeter and fields of fire," Pvt. Kevin Darbone said. "This allowed us to better evaluate our lines and improve them," the Sunset, La., native added.

Playing into day two's PME on core values, Capt. Frederick Folson, Materiel Command's operations officer, led a guided discussion on morale and esprit de corps.

"His [Folson's] class focused on individual shop interaction and camaraderie, just like Master Guns' [Warwick's] PME," Darbone said.

According to S-6 personnel, the field exercise was a success. As with any field operation, teaching and refreshing the values and skills that define Marines is always the goal. However, this exercise had an underlining agenda.

"Teamwork, unit integrity and camaraderie," Joens said. "That was our goal, and that's what we did. The S-6 Marines' performance was exemplary and I know they got out of it what we wanted them to -- unit cohesion and a whole lot of fun."

"It's just nice to break from the routine and do what Marines are supposed to do," he concluded.

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