Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel Argentieri, a light armored vehicle mechanic, with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, fires his rifle at a notional enemy target during a live-fire range on the National Training Center 20-05 in Ft. Irwin, Calif., March 22, 2020. The National Training Center is a unique opportunity that allows Marines and Sailors to train with and against a peer competitor in a conventional combat operational setting. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Elijah J. Abernathy)

Photo by Cpl. Elijah Abernathy

Desert Playground: NTC 20-05

27 Mar 2020 | Cpl. Elijah Abernathy II Marine Expeditionary Force

U.S. Marines and Sailors with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division trained in primarily conventional combat operations during National Training Center 20-05 at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., March 17, 2020.

The training incorporated U.S. Army Soldiers with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment to provide an opposing force to 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

“The National Training Center is a playground for maneuver warfare,” said 1st Lt. Jacob Holwerda, alpha platoon commander with 2nd LAR. “When we come out here to train against a notional peer competitor, it allows us to actually test our mettle and see how devastating LAR can be on the battlefield.”

The National Training Center provides a multitude of different training opportunities, such as several live-fire ranges where units can use a variety of weapon systems, including ground and air vehicles.

2nd LAR participated in a 10-day field operation named The Box during NTC 20-05. The Box is a notional conventional war operation that provides a level of realism involving participating units fighting against a similarly trained enemy. The Box remains unique among training areas due to its ability to host realistic land operations in a fully immersive cultural environment with technologically advanced and elaborate facilities.

“When we are out here, we have to think smart,” said Sgt. Angel Paz, a scout squad leader with 2nd LAR. “Even though it’s training, we treat this like it's real, so we are prepared for the real thing. Just like the Corps always says: train how you fight.”

When units participating in NTC step foot into The Box, it forces unit leaders at all levels to focus more on their adversaries, such as the enemies capabilities, limitations, and what possible courses of action they should take.

“My Marines and I learned a lot during this training,” said Paz. “This training provides a level of stress that newer Marines don’t usually get from our normal field ops. Being out here really keeps us on our toes.”

Marines with LAR learned to understand the best advantages of the terrain and their equipment while training in The Box. 2nd LAR honed their skills on reconnaissance, armor identification, weapons capabilities, and reacting to the unknown of the battlefield against a notional enemy force.

“I look forward to coming out every year,” said Holwerda. “The Army provides a great training environment and being here allows the Marine Corps to have a more prepared Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, while ensuring a more lethal and tactically proficient asset.”

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