II MEF section readied Marines for future missions

12 May 2006 | Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre

Marines are constantly looking for new and innovative training methods to prepare for urban combat operations. Entrenched enemies, unfamiliar buildings, narrow alleyways and civilians used as demonstrators and human shields are just a few of the obstacles Marines face in the constantly evolving combat realm.

Marines of II Marine Expeditionary Force Exercise and Simulations Division, or
G-7, are in the job of assisting combat units with these difficult tasks. One of the ways they provide realistic training is through the Certification Exercise where they utilize their facilities, equipment and personnel augments serving as role players to certify units for overseas deployment. 

“We are responsible for role players billeting, chow, transportation and movement to and from all scenarios,” said 1st Lt. Joshua G. Ellsworth, 36, of Saginaw, Mich.

A logistics officer with Exercise and Simulations, Ellsworth added, “Anything they need to support sustained (training) operations is what the support section for G-7 does.”

During the recent CERTEX, Exercise and Simulations used one of their buildings as a mock U.S. Embassy within a country in distress. Role players acting as demonstrators in front of the embassy antagonized Marines whose mission was to protect the building and its staff. This was part of their goal in making the Marine Expeditionary Unit qualified as Special Operations Capable, preparing them for missions they may confront in the future.

“Our job is to get what’s needed for the role players (and others) to meet the mission requirements,” said Sgt. William A. McCormack, 25, of Carlsbad, N. M., the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of G-7’s motor transport. “We want to support the mission at hand with whatever they need.”

The sky was overcast but the rain was the least concern for the detachment of cannoneers from Battery S, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Their mission that day was to guard the mock facility as part of their training for Special Operations Capable certification prior to their deployment.

This whole exercise is a culmination for their SOC certification,” said Ellsworth. “SOC qualification lets the commanders know they are capable of special operations of an unconventional sense.”

Exercise and Simulations provided another role; acting as the command element to the MEU and its cannoneers.

“We at G-7 play higher headquarters by contacting the MEU (with) what the mission is and what it entails,” said Ellsworth. “We send out warning and execution orders and they go out and act like they were in the country where assistance is needed.”

Actual members from the U.S. Department of State, other government agencies and a small contingent of British Royal Marines participated in the training. Their involvement added to the realism and offered them hands-on training in scenarios they might face. In the simulation, they tried to enter the guarded compound while demonstrators surrounded their vehicles. The cannoneers cleared the crowd before a dangerous situation got worse.

“This is one of the best training missions I’ve had in (my) three years in the Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon S. Robinson,  field artillery cannoneer, Battery S. “Being able to use this facility helped out a lot with actual scenarios we may face when we deploy,” said the 22-year-old from San Angelo, Texas native.

The training experience collected here will be used in future training operations by G-7 and more importantly by the MEU in missions they will face in the future.

“The role players know our tactics,” added Cpl. Danilo A. Prieto, 22, of Louisville, Ky., a field artillery cannoneer with Battery S, during a break in the exercise. “They know how to push our limits.”

Please feel free to publish this story or any of the accompanying photos. If used, please give credit to the writer/photographer, and contact us at: ruben.maestre@usmc.mil so we can update our records.