Warriors in the Making (Part 3)

Warriors in the Making
Warriors in the Making

2ndLt Gregory R. Jaunal, student, Infantry Officers' Course, fires a mortar round during a mountain attack in the Bullion Training Area March 21, 2012. The mountain attack was part of their four-day culminating exercise from PALM FEX. Photo by LCpl Ali Azimi.

Marines with the Infantry Officers' Course, carry a simulated casualty down a steep hill during a mountain attack in the Bullion training area March 21, 2012. The mountain attack was part of their four-day culminating exercise from PALM FEX. Photo by LCpl Ali Azimi.

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, California (April 6, 2012) -- Editor's Note: This is the third of a three-part series showcasing Infantry Officers Course and what the Corps does to get new lieutenants ready to lead in combat.

The Marines of Infantry Officers' Course performed a mountain attack in the culminating event during their Palm Field Exercise in the Combat Center's Bullion Training Area March 21, 2012.

This final and intense exercise puts their training to the test.

"It's focused on everything they have learned since the beginning of IOC," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shelby Lasater, IOC gunner. "The platoon commanders are here making the decisions."

The mountain attack saw the student platoon commanders in control of the operation. The leaders have to gather intelligence and then plan accordingly to complete the mission.

"They have to figure out their geometries of fires as well as everything else it takes to get to the objective and take control," Lasater said.

The first platoon to take on the scenario, executed in a quick and quiet fashion. This aroused little advice and varied praise from the instructors overseeing the operation.

First platoon's plan went smoothly compared to second platoon's less-stealthy maneuver.

Second platoon's Marines were crushed by enemy fire, their approach avenues blocked and they struggled to recover.

"We're watching to see if they learn from their mistakes," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bob Tagliabue, The Basic School gunner.

This course is designed to make these officers into infantry platoon commanders.

There are very few places in the Marine Corps where the officers can conduct a mountain attack like the one they did.

"The Combat Center's mountains are very similar to the ones found near Kandahar and Helmand provinces in Afghanistan," said Col. Julian Alford, commanding officer, The Basic School, IOC.

The mountain attack is a recent addition to PALM FEX.

"This is our fifth iteration of the attack," Alford said. "We wanted something that would simulate conditions they would find in Afghanistan."

PALM FEX was already established in the course. Adding a mountain attack just made sense, Alford said.

The officers went on to make their final attack of PALM FEX on range 210A.

The students integrated techniques they learned earlier in the course, including combined operations between armor and infantry.

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