8th ESB Patrols Camp Lejeune

8TH ESB Patrols Camp Lejeune

LCpl Kris Latourette, a combat engineer with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, fights through high bushes during a patrolling exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 26, 2015. The patrolling exercise gave the unit a sense of their proficiency level and how it can be improved in the future. Photo by Cpl Scott W. Whiting.

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Feb. 27, 2015) - The faint sound of rustling thickets whispered through a training area aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as Marines from Alpha Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion practiced patrolling tactics, Feb. 26.

Approximately 20 Marines were broken up into two squads and each given objectives to accomplish while patrolling the densely wooded area.

"We embedded each squad with a sergeant evaluator," said 2ndLt Christopher Parr, a platoon commander for Alpha Co. "We have two younger corporals leading the squads, and the sergeants are there to evaluate the decisions made by the squad leaders."

The evaluators' job was not so much to tell the squad leaders what to do, but rather to guide them in the right direction if they noticed something off.

"The goal is different for each Marine," Parr said. "For the squad leaders, the objective is to give them an opportunity to lead a larger group of Marines than they are used to, and for them to be able to learn to make important decisions in the moment. For the rest of the Marines, it comes down to learning and executing basic individual actions out here."

During the patrols, one of the groups went a little off-track from their mission, but Parr doesn't see that as a big issue.

"We're out here so we can get the work in we need," Parr said. "If Marines get lost, then we go back and see what can be fixed or executed better in order to ensure that doesn't happen again."

While 8th ESB's everyday job isn't patrolling, the unit wants to keep its Marines sharp in terms of basic Marine skills.

"We never know what situation we'll be asked to do," Parr said. "You need to keep these core skills, because you could be tasked with anything in the future."

Even with a group getting turned around, there were some good takeaways from the training. Parr said the mapping and plotting was done well, and even when the group got lost, they figured out where they were and got back on track.

"This definitely gives us a foothold as to where we are, and what we need to evaluate in the future," Parr said.

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