'Lava Dogs' instill squad level tactics in new Marines

'Lava Dogs' instill squad level tactics in new Marines

LCpl Ryan Lee, team leader with second platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and 20-year-old native of Brandon, Miss., top, explains lateral limits to his junior Marine, LCpl Cody Morris, an infantry automatic gunner with second platoon, Bravo Co., 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, and 20-year-old native of Long Beach Island, N.J., as he sights through the scope of his rifle. Photo by LCpl Matthew Bragg.

KAHUKU TRAINING AREA, Hawaii (October 4, 2013) - Marines and sailors with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment completed a weeklong exercise at Kahuku Training Area Oct. 4, 2013. The exercise focused on familiarizing new Marines with current training methods used within the company while helping seasoned Marines sustain knowledge they were already taught.

Bravo Company stayed at KTA for the duration of their training exercises to acclimate the new personnel to the environment and their fellow brethren. With new Marines fresh out of the School of Infantry, a majority of the exercises were conducted on a squad-level, allowing the squad leader and his team leaders to assess their new Marines' abilities.

"This exercise is essentially focusing on squad-sized evolutions," said 2ndLt Carl Stofberg, second platoon commander, Bravo Co., 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, and 23-year-old native of Glen Rock, N.J. "We've got new Marines who are young and new to their platoons, so a few of these exercises will involve a lot of individual actions to see how much knowledge they've retained."

For the first evolution of the exercise, Marines conducted numerous squad patrols, such as daytime, night and reconnaissance patrols. Soon after, the squads transitioned into reacting to enemy ambushes while conducting a patrol.

During periods of rest, the Marines would hydrate and discuss what they did right during the ambush and what areas they need to work on.

"In a nutshell, we're working on unit cohesion and just coming together as a squad," said Lance Cpl Ryan Lee, team leader with second platoon, Bravo Co., 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, and 20-year-old native of Brandon, Miss. "We're going through basic procedures, but the key is to get them thinking individually and learning how to work together."

Later in the week, Bravo Company advanced into the other two evolutions of the exercise, which involved raiding an objective and extracting a target within a Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility. Different squads of Marines took turns carrying out the evolutions.

"It's all about getting into that MOUT mindset and remembering your SOPs (standard operating procedures) when you're clearing a building," said Cpl Andrew Frank, acting platoon sergeant for third platoon, 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, and 22-year-old native of Walla Walla, Wash. "This training helps mold the new Marines into that mindset. The goal is to get them performing at the same level as the other Marines."

During the MOUT training, Marines used simunition rounds to illustrate the importance of not getting shot on the battlefield. Anyone who was impacted by a SIM round was taken out of play and became temporarily "dead."

Simunition rounds are a type of paintball ammunition that closely resembles actual ammunition.

"The new guys are retaining the training and are working hard to improve themselves," Lee said. "They're beginning to learn what to do in actual (combat) situations, and they're whoopin' it here at Kahuku's."

Bravo Company completed one of its first training exercises that will lead into bigger exercises involving the company as a whole in the future, such as Island Viper and the Integrated Training Exercise.

"The team leaders are teaching their Marines everything they know because those Marines will be their replacements," Stofberg explained. "(Through) more exercises, those younger Marines will begin to see how their training is molding them into future successful team leaders."

Marines.mil is the official website of the United States Marine Corps and is maintained by the Marine Corps' Division of Public Affairs.