Marines Learn Land Navigation in Mountainous Terrain

Marines Learn Land Navigation in Mountainous Terrain

U.S. Marines with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, re-plot their destination during Mountain Exercise 2014 aboard Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif. Photo by Sgt Emmanuel Ramos.

BRIDGEPORT, Calif. (Sept. 3, 2014) – When you're deployed to a combat zone knowing how to read a map, use a compass and navigate through unfamiliar terrain can be the difference between life and death.

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment continued Mountain Exercise 2014 by conducting land navigation training aboard Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Sept. 3, 2014.

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment will become the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's ground combat element in October. Mountain Exercise 2014 develops critical skills the battalion will need during deployment.

Specifically, the training ensures the Marines are prepared for mountainous terrain if the need arises while deployed with the 15th MEU next year. Some Marines also noted that the training can apply at home too.

"This training doesn't only apply to our military operations," said LCpl Anthony P. Kaigler, motor transportation mechanic, Communications Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. "A lot of Marines go camping with their families. If they ever get lost, they can fall back on this training to help them find their way. These are skills everyone should learn."

Marines started their training with a refresher course on the basics of map and compass reading, as well as terrain association.

Marines were given five hours to locate four grid locations in the densely wooded mountains.

"The trees and the steep hills definitely made it a lot harder," said LCpl Philip Cammock, team leader, 81s Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. "You're on your path and all of a sudden there's this huge boulder in your way. You have to go around it and then reshoot your azimuth. It takes a lot of time."

Many of the squad leaders used this opportunity to test their Marines' ability to read the terrain.

"This is a new environment for these Marines," said Sgt Muhamad A. Naseer, squad leader, 81s Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. "Because of all the obstacles like trees and boulders, I wanted them to focus on terrain association. If they plot their [locations] wrong, then you can be doing everything else wrong and end up in the wrong location. With terrain association you look at distinguished features and use them to your advantage to get you where you need to be."

In addition to exercising their land navigation skills, Marines are learning these techniques knowing they benefit not only them, but also partner nations.

"A lot of the stuff we learn here we share with different countries we train with," said Naseer, 21, from Overland Park, Kansas. "On my last deployment with the 11th MEU, we were teaching this training to a lot of the different armies we were training with. It benefits them, which ultimately helps us out in our mission."

Overcoming the physically demanding terrain, Marines succeeded in traversing their new environment and finding their locations.

"They all did very well," said Capt Christopher O'Melia, company commander, weapons company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. "It's amazing. We haven't fired a single round throughout the training here, yet we've received a wealth of training and knowledge, that will ultimately help us out when we head out with the MEU."

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