YUMA, Ariz. -- In keeping with "every Marine a rifleman," the Marines of Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, are preparing themselves here to operate as an infantry company in their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in the spring of 2010.
On top of their normal responsibilities, noninfantry Marines in the infantry units currently in Afghanistan are being pulled into the fight. Since the battalion expects to need every Marine to patrol and provide security, the company’s Marines brushed up on basic combat skills at the Yuma Proving Ground Oct. 16-19.
"They need more trigger pullers than support," 1st Lt. John Nobles, executive officer of the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based company, said of Marine units in Afghanistan.
To support the counterinsurgency strategy, the Corps has focused its Marines to extend their reach to the many tribes, people and leaders in the scattered towns and villages of Afghanistan, said Maj. Barron Mills, battalion executive officer.
"The Afghan people will help us win," said 1st Lt. Stefan Arnold, company commanding officer. "Without their trust, without their confidence, we’re just targets."
To prepare, his company started small.
"We’re trying to build upon the basics of what the average infantryman does so that our Marines will have an understanding of the combat skills they're going to need," said Nobles.
During the refresher training, the company covered squad and fire team formations, hand and arm signals, combat shooting, buddy rushes and fire team rushes.
"Fire team rushes and buddy rushes are basics of Marine combat," said 1st Lt. Jonathan Ames, battalion supply officer. "Advancing on the enemy while another Marine is suppressing is one of the most important things a Marine going into combat needs to know."
To culminate their training, the company's Marines were faced with assaulting through an ambush while on a foot patrol.
"It was intense," said Lance Cpl. Ben Norville, company armory custodian. "I had to think three steps ahead. It’s pretty close to what I expect to do in Afghanistan."
Currently 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, has assigned its H&S Company its own operational area in Afghanistan in the fashion an infantry company would be, said Arnold.
"We just want to be ready," said Nobles.
Yet, in addition to their new responsibilities, the company will still support the battalion's logistical, administrative, intelligence and communication needs.
Even with the daunting task of patrolling and carrying out their regular duties, the morale of H&S Company remains high, said Arnold.
"I'm really excited to go to Afghanistan and not just sit behind a desk," said Cpl. Ryan Morris, battalion embarkation specialist. "My last deployment was like that and it made the deployment drag. Hopefully, with all the action, this one will go by faster."
This training was also to prepare the company for Exercise Mojave Viper, a predeployment requirement, in Twentynine Palms, Calif., in January 2010.