Corporals' Course blasts through Combat Town

Corporals' Course blasts through Combat Town

Marines evacuate a mock casualty to a casualty collection point after a simulated improvised explosive device detonation during the III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group Corporals' Course culminating event Aug. 5 at the Combat Town training facility in the Central Training Area. Photo by Sgt Brian A. Marion.

CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, JAPAN (Aug. 16, 2013) - Marine Corps noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, are said to be the backbone of the Marine Corps, serving as a vital link between the commander, all officers and enlisted Marines. Nowhere is this more important than on the battlefield.

For one group of Marine NCOs enrolled in the III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group Corporals' Course, the mantra "backbone of the Marine Corps" took-on special meaning as they took turns leading teams of Marines through a tough training evolution at the urban battlefield of the Combat Town facility in the Central Training Area Aug. 5.

III MHG is a part of III MEF, and the students are with various units within III MEF and the 18th Wing, located at Kadena Air Base.

The training brought together everything the service members were taught, including calling in casualty evacuations, identifying improvised explosive devices, and clearing structures during military operations in urban terrain.

"We want to get them in the combat-hunter mindset," said GySgt Jemarr R. Glenn, the III MHG's Corporals Course director and radio chief for 7th Communication Battalion, III MHG. "In other words, we want them to observe everything in, and be aware of, their surroundings because these young (noncommissioned officers) are where the rubber meets the road and we want to ensure they are successful."

The first portion consisted of the students trying to detect IEDs throughout the Combat Town training facility. Although some students successfully found the IEDs before they detonated, others did not.

"(The IEDs) are loud, and you know when they detonate," said Cpl Saxon D. Jackman, a student in the course and light-armored vehicle mechanic with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. "This training shows us that we have to be more aware of our surroundings."

During the scenario, if the devices detonated, the students had to evacuate their casualties to a designated point and coordinate a casualty evacuation of their wounded.

"The IED (training) was pretty good," said Cpl Devon L. Hood, a reconnaissance man with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, III MEF. "Patrolling down the road and hearing and feeling the devices go off really catches you off guard."

After completing the IED training, the students regrouped in their staging area to don their flak jackets, Kevlar helmets and face masks for the final portion of the event.

For this segment, the students organized into their respective squads to compete against their instructors in military operations in urban terrain training using special effect small-arms marking system rounds, or paint rounds, designed to be fired from a modified M16A2 or M4 service rifle.

"This is where we get into the small-unit leadership portion of the training," said Glenn. "We want to see how they react, if they can make tactical decisions quickly, and how efficiently they move their troops through the town."

The instructors staged themselves in various buildings and waited for the students to enter the town. Once the students entered, they fired on the students, causing them to return fire and move to cover.

As the students neutralized the instructors, the instructors displaced to other areas affording aggressive tactical advantages to simulate additional enemy resistance.

"This training provided us with some good experience in different areas," said Hood. "It gave a lot of the Marines a chance to do things they would not do normally."

With the mission completed, the students and their instructors packed up their equipment and headed back to Camp Hansen to be debriefed.

"It was nice being able to do this training today," said Jackman. "It made us aware of some of our weaknesses and what needs improvement. I look forward to using what I learned to make my unit better."

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