Marines gain realistic combat training during Exercise Chromite

Marines gain realistic combat training during Exercise Chromite

Marines clear the basement of a building simulating a chemical weapons facility at Combat Town on Camp Hansen Dec. 5 during Exercise Chromite. The Marines are with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program. Photo by LCpl Matt Myers.

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa (December 30, 2013) - Marines held their weapons tightly as they concentrated on the distant tree line. As the mock enemy approached, some Marines tensed up behind their cover while others made last minute gear adjustments. One thing was certain: the quiet, calm atmosphere of the Combat Town facility on Camp Hansen was about to shatter into a cacophony of simulated machine gun fire, shouted orders and a sense of chaos resembling combat.

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, defended combat town against an attacking force of Marines with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, recently during Exercise Chromite. Both regiments are currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program.

The exercise offers rotating UDP infantry regiments a chance to hone their tactical and operational planning skills, according to 2ndLt Chet Shaffer, an infantry officer with 2nd Bn., 6th Marines. Exercise Chromite is just one way that the Marine Corps is continuing to practice and perfect its warfighting capabilities.

During the engagement, simulated rounds were used to make the training more realistic, and to eliminate confusion as to who was victorious.

As part of the training scenario, the attacking Marines mission was to clear and secure a mock chemical weapons facility guarded by an opposing force.

"This was a really good training event," said 1stLt Michael Davidson, a platoon commander with 3rd Bn., 1st Marines. "Many times in training there isn't an opposing force, so this made it more real and we received some good feedback on what we can improve on with both our offensive and defensive tactics."

Throughout the Combat Town facility, skirmishes could be heard as the two forces continued to clash until ultimately the defending Marines were effectively defeated and the chemical weapon facility was secured.

"You're definitely getting training and experience out of this," said LCpl Tyrone Watkins, a machine gunner with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. "This really gives you an idea of what it would be like to be in a real (combat engagement)."

The combat town scenario was one component of the entire exercise, which consisted of various missions to include tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, chemical weapon search and seizure, amphibious assaults and improvised explosive device recognition techniques.

"This has been a huge exercise," said Shaffer. "It allowed (Marines) to get used to dealing with different units and assets and it lets a platoon commander reach out and see all the assets he has available when the actual mission comes into play."

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