Recruits map out land navigation

Recruits map out land navigation

Recruits Guy T. Hutches and Benjamin I. Smith (left and right) find their next navigation point during the Land Navigation Course aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Oct. 15. Recruits are divided into teams of two for the course. Photo by LCpl Tyler Viglione.

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Nov. 1, 2013) - In this day and age of smartphones and Global Positioning Systems, most people don't know how to use a compass or map. For a Marine, this knowledge must be second nature.

Armed with compasses and maps, recruits of Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, maneuvered through the Land Navigation Course at Edson Range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Oct. 15.

During Field Week, or week seven of recruit training, throughout the hilly terrain of Camp Pendleton recruits learned the basic fundamentals of combat, everything from combat formations to land navigation. The course is buried deep in the midst of the mountainous terrain of Camp Pendleton, covered with cacti, bushes, and various wildlife.

"Before the recruits are released to find their points, they have a class on how to shoot an azimuth, get their pace counts, and how to read a map," said Sgt Britt Castillo, drill instructor, Platoon 3202. "They also practice mapping points while in the class."

The recruits learned how to measure ground distance using pace count. A pace count is how many steps it takes a person to walk a known distance. It allowed them to keep track of how far they had traveled from their starting points.

"The recruits split into teams of two and receive five different points that they have to find using the techniques that they learned," said Castillo, a Dallas, Texas native.

Each navigation point is marked with a numbered ammunition can. Each pair of recruits were given a different route to obtain to.

"Once recruits believe that they have found all of their points, they bring the points that they found to the instructor," said Castillo. "If they got all of them right they are finished, if not then they have to go back out."

The recruits were allotted approximately four hours to complete the course.

"At first, I felt like I forgot everything I learned in the class," said Recruit Jose F. Ranguel, Plt. 3201. "It got easier as I kept going through my points."

For Ranguel, this was more than just a land navigation exercise.

"This was the first time we were given a chance to do something on our own," said Ranguel. "I feel like it was a leadership and teambuilding exercise as well."

During recruit training, recruits learn how to take initiative and to lead each other. Events like Land Navigation allow recruits to practice those skills.

Recruits will be able to utilize their land navigation skills again after recruit training while at the School of Infantry.

According to Castillo, recruits are given the basic fundamentals in order for them to develop those skills throughout their Marine Corps Careers.

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