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Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, perform shooting drills with their M16A4 service rifles during a squadron field exercise at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground training facility in Yuma, Ariz., Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

Photo by Pfc. George Melendez

Combat Readiness: Back to Basics with MWSS-371

10 Mar 2016 | Pfc. George Melendez Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

In order to maintain combat readiness, Marines must use every moment to hone their warfighting skills. For the Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 (MWSS-371), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, a four-day training exercise at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground training facility is serving as that opportunity, March 8-11.

The evolution focuses on the basic fundamentals of deployment in an austere environment and a re-familiarization with weapons proficiency.

“This operation is to teach our Marines the necessary combat skills they need to take forward, during deployment, in order to accomplish the mission,” said Maj. Adorjan Ferenczy, the operations officer for MWSS-371.

Marines go over proper safety checks, break down, set up, and appropriate employment of a multitude of weapons systems to include the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), M240B machine gun and the M16A4 service rifle.

“It gives the Marines an opportunity to re-familiarize themselves and become proficient in using their table of operation weapon and their crew-served weapon,” said Master Sgt. Carl Lucas, the operations chief with MWSS-371.

The exercise also lets the senior Marines in the squadron get a closer look at where their junior Marines are in their professional and tactical development. Altogether, their time in the field is a way to build on the Marine Corps warrior ethos and strengthen their camaraderie as a team.

“We pull them out of that comfortable environment and put the Marines out here in the field. They sleep under the stars together, they eat together, they live together and that camaraderie is built even further,” said Ferenczy.

It is the team effort and unit cohesion that the Sand Sharks use as their key to mission success.

“It makes me feel comfortable because, if things do go bad out there, I know that the Marine to the left and right of me has my back,” said Pfc. Dequante Pearson, a heavy equipment operator with MWSS-371. “We’re out here, for these rough four days, learning these things and preparing for the worst together.”

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