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Yuma Marines assist grunts with training for deployment

By Lance Cpl. Laura Cardoso | | January 6, 2011

Station Marines participated in their second deployment for training of 2010 at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 13-17, 2010.

Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron volunteered 19 Marines to assist 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, based at Twentynine Palms, while they prepared for a deployment to Afghanistan in the spring.

The weeklong counter-insurgency training, or COIN, called for Yuma Marines to role-play as Afghan National Army personnel, posing several deployment scenarios to the 3/4 Marines.

"The purpose of having these Marines acting as ANA is so our Marines can get hands-on experience and see what they have to expect in country," said 2nd Lt. Mateo Flores, weapons platoon commander, with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. "It's better that they get the experience here rather than out on a real deployment."

Marines experienced with the ANA mentored Yuma Marines on how to best imitate Afghan soldiers.

As part of their mission, the Marines accompanied infantrymen on patrols, night raids, firewatches, and improvised explosive device searches.

Marines also got the chance to experience a more realistic feel to the training when special effects staff made up Yuma Marines, giving them the appearance of having severe wounds from an IED attack.

Afghan natives, speaking their native language, role-played as merchants and worked in the market place, adding realism to the training.

"These guys will be dealing with people who don't speak our language or follow our customs," said Lance Cpl. Shawn Donnelly, H&HS air traffic controller. "So by acting as if we don't know what's going on, we are helping them learn how to deal with situations like this."

3rd Battalion is preparing for their seven-month deployment to Afghanistan beginning April. The last step in their training after COIN is completing Enhanced Mojave Viper, which they are scheduled to begin next month.

"Our mission out here is to be successful in a COIN environment," said Flores. "The intent behind ANA is to train them to fight COIN to help them develop their own forces so they can defend themselves and provide the freedoms we enjoy."

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