MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – -- Marines with 2nd Maintenance Battalion trudged through dense brush as they conducted a land navigation course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 28, 2015. With today’s reliance on GPS devices, the unit is preparing themselves in case of failing technology or inaccurate mapping equipment during future operations.
During the course, the Marines were tasked with plotting points on a terrain map and locating them. The points were identified by painted ammunition boxes with tagged or printed names.
“The land navigation course is just about bringing back the basics,” said Sgt. Chris Eskridge, an instructor for the course with Headquarters Regiment, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “We go over plotting points, finding your azimuth and how to convert it, and we show them pictures of [land] depressions and explain how it will affect your pace count.”
The Marines were in groups of four and were given a time limit of three hours to complete the course.
“We had to plot points on the map and then shoot the azimuth to be able to find the points,” said Lance Cpl. Jacob Young, a motor transportation mechanic with the unit.
Throughout parts of the course, dense vegetation concealed or even blocked the path to some of the points.
“One of the challenges for the Marines is the terrain on the course,” said Eskridge. “We teach the Marines terrain association.”
Terrain association is where the topographic map is used to guide participants by associating the proximity of roads, creeks, and other features to their points. Instructors strive to re-familiarize the Marines with terrain association and ensure the knowledge can be used and passed down accurately.
“One of the biggest challenges was fighting through the brush,” said Young. “We had to push past briers and thorn bushes and just keep on going.”
Young described how transportation Marines could use these skills in lieu of working technology or accurate GPS devices while potentially dismounted from their convoy and moving toward for an objective.
“If we’re trying to find a truck to be recovered, we’ll have to plot the point and go from there to be able to recover the vehicle,” he said. Young added that he looks forward to utilizing this knowledge in the future and is confident with his capabilities.