TW in Iraq #2: Camp Pendleton Training

January 23rd, 2006

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We’ve been working pretty hard. The past two weeks, we’ve had a half-day off each Sunday to do our laundry and get our gear in order for the next week. Otherwise, we’ve been training every day.

Week before last we spent the week in the field working on basic team- and squad-level tactics, culminating in a live-fire, squad-level fire-and-movement exercise. Last week, the machinegunners spent the week at Camp Pendleton, completing a course run by instructors from First Marine Division.

Some of the course at Pendleton was a refresher on stuff we learned as machinegunners in our initial training at the School of Infantry. Some of it covered new, Iraq-specific information and training. All of the instructors were combat veterans with at least two tours in Iraq, so they had some very good lessons-learned to pass that can’t be found in any
standard Marine Corps training manuals. The good news is that the instructors told us, after working with us for a week, that we are already performing at the level of, or even slightly better than, the active duty units they work with on a regular basis.

On a more sobering note, the instructors repeatedly warned us against underestimating the insurgents we will confront in Iraq. They conveyed a strong sense of respect for the ingenuity, the will, and even the tactics of the enemy they had fought against on their recent tours.

We have classes today on convoy operations. We are leaving for the field again late tonight or early tomorrow morning. We will be out there until late Saturday, training in a mock urban environment. To give you a sense of how large this base is, our convoy movement out to the training area we will be working in is expected to take 2 1/2 hours.

That’s all for now.

SB