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Back to basics school: Yuma Marines go grunt during combat training

By Lance Cpl. Jakob Schulz | | July 30, 2009

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Being a nondeployable unit didn’t stop Yuma's Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron Marines from heading to Camp Pendleton, Calif., recently to brush up on combat skills.

Seventy-six service members participated in the six-day Enhanced Combat Skills course conducted by 1st Marine Logistics Group July 12-18, 2009.

The squadron doesn’t want its Marines going into a combat zone and using these skills for the first time, said Lt. Col. Robert Ford, squadron commanding officer.

The squadron was the third group to participate in this course after it was restructured approximately two months ago, said Staff Sgt. Luis Fragoza, 1st MLG chief course instructor. The new course focuses less on teaching by the book and more on practical application. This allows the instructors to concentrate on preparing the Marines for deployments.

The Marines and corpsmen who attended the training refreshed their knowledge with classroom-style lectures and hours of practical application.

The training was educational, entertaining and built camaraderie between Marines who normally don’t work with each other, said Lance Cpl. William Hamby, military policeman.

During the first day of the exercise, the Marines and sailors set up camp, divided into two platoons and began classes on combat orders, hand and arm signals and patrolling.

Days two and three were similar, with classes in the morning then practical application for the rest of the day. These days included training in fixed-site security, observation theory, combat profiling, controlled-entry points, rear-area security, combat reporting, detecting improvised explosive devices, calling for indirect fire, room clearing and urban operations.

On the final day the Marines were put to the test in a 24-hour field exercise. During the exercise, the platoons alternated between standing guard at the camp, patrolling and going on missions.

 “A few days of patrolling, going through a town and kicking down doors was a nice change of pace,” said Cpl. Conor Murtagh, Search and Rescue maintenance administrator.

The final mission was a joint search and capture operation between the platoons. One platoon lead the assault, attempting to capture three instructors acting as insurgents. After that platoon sustained causalities, the second platoon mobilized a rescue and made their way back to the base.

“The Marines were exposed to a lot of things that they had already learned,” said Capt. Dan Moench, squadron training officer. “It was good for them to refresh their leadership skills and learn through their mistakes and decisions.”
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