MOUT training highlights urban warfighting

MOUT training highlights urban warfighting

Marines with first platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, dart across a danger area to clear remaining compounds in their area of operation at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, Sept. 30, 2013. Photo by Cpl Matthew Callahan.

MARINE CORPS TRAINING AREA BELLOWS, Hawaii (Oct. 11, 2013)- Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, conducted Military Operations in Urban Terrain training at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii Sept. 30 through Oct. 3, 2013. The company utilized the Infantry Immersion Training facility to sustain urban warfighting tactics and to integrate junior Marines into a kinetic 360-degree environment.

The Infantry Immersion Training facility at Bellows is one of three in the Marine Corps, boasting real-world sights, sounds and smells generated by motion sensitive machines around architecture designed for urban warfare training.

Cameras line nearly every building corner and interior, giving a 360-degree view of the battle space to be reviewed by commands and participating Marines in an after-action briefing room.

The "Lava Dogs" began the four-day operation with a series of attacks and seizures of MOUT Site 3, the largest collection of compounds at MCTAB. First and second platoon attacked in separate areas of the town to gain a foothold and secure objectives being defended by third platoon. First platoon Marines patrolled to the northernmost point of MOUT Site 3 and cleared compounds from the northeast while second platoon Marines attacked from the southwest, each platoon seizing roughly eight compounds per platoon.

"Our mission was to defend the MOUT site and act as opposing forces," said LCpl Daniel Serra, a Yorktown Heights, N.Y., native and rifleman with third platoon, Charlie Co., 1st Bn., 3rd Marines. "Through sporadic fire and hit-and-run tactics, we're trying to disorient (first and second platoon) and give them a no-win situation."

The opposing forces Marines split into three squads of six personnel to cover various areas of the training facility, barricading points of entry and planting booby traps on doors. Marines conducting the attack worked together to enhance skills on an individual basis, honing communication and moving fluidly through the hostile terrain.

"It's all about making sure each Marine can act and think on his own," said LCpl Thomas Oldenburg, a squad leader with second platoon, Charlie Co., 1st Bn., 3rd Marines and Prior Lake, Minn., native. "Every Marine needs to be able to step into a room, assess threats and clear every corner."

Reliance on autonomy is vital in gaining momentum in an urban environment to establish a foothold as fast as possible and keep pressure up on an enemy, according to Oldenburg.

During the exercise, Marines used the Instrumented-Tactical Engagement Simulation System. They donned man-worn detection systems, a series of sensors that represented various parts of the human body. Using blank 5.56 mm ammunition, Marines attached small arms laser transmitters to the muzzles of their personal weapons to engage each other in the force-on-force scenario. The system, used in conjunction with blank fire, accurately pinpointed shots to the body, providing further scenario realism when combatants on either side are wounded or killed.

During the exercise, Charlie Co. employed a fire support team to provide fire missions incorporating simulated artillery, 81 mm and 60 mm mortar fire missions, engaging enemy positions with indirect fire capabilities in support of the platoon attacks, according to 1stLt Francisco Garza, executive officer, Charlie Co., 1st Bn, 3rd Marines and Houston native.

"MOUT's role for the infantryman is to take the basic skill set of attack and defense and apply it to the most difficult terrain," Garza said. "It's a three-dimensional battle space where enemy can be above, in front, below or behind you. It is a very slow, violent and deadly (process), making MOUT crucial to the success of the Marine Corps on the modern battlefield.

"This being Charlie company's first MOUT focused field operation, there was improvement across the board on all skills relating," he added. "In particular, the company was able to develop its standard operating procedure for communication and marking of buildings, which is crucial in such a complex environment."

See more of the Lava Dogs' training exercises.

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