The Air Combat Element (ACE)
is made up of a Marine Aircraft
Group headquarters, fixed-wing tactical aircraft, MV- 22 tiltrotor aircraft
and assault support helicopters.
Other attachments and enablers
can include civil affairs teams,
interpreters, military working dogs
and explosive ordnance disposal
teams, the briefing document said.
It also notes that “units will
conduct individual and collective
training at their home stations in
order to arrive at the Combat
Center proficient in the skills
they’ll need to participate in ITX.”
Allocation of the limited training capacity at Twentynine Palms
is set by Marine policy.
“As long as the Marine Corps
continues to provide forces in support of OEF, those deploying units
will continue to be the priority
training audience for ITX,” the
briefing said, using the abbreviation for Operation Enduring
Freedom, the Afghanistan mission.
Beyond that, “Ideally, every battalion and squadron-sized unit will have the opportunity to participate in an
ITX at least once every two years,” the document said.
“Unit participation in ITX will be based on deployment
cycles and will be prioritized for units that are deploying
to named operations, units that deploy with the Unit
Deployment Program to Okinawa, Japan, and units that
deploy as part of Marine Expeditionary Units [MEUs].”
The first unit to go through the revised training in
January was the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines (2/4), a
Camp Pendleton-based infantry battalion that deployed
to the Pacific and the Arabian Sea as part of a MEU.
Because the Corps cannot know what missions and
challenges its Marines will face in the future, the ITX
curriculum is likely to evolve, Training and Education
Command (TECOM) said in a written response to
questions from Seapower.
But one aspect of Mojave Viper training, developed
from the painful experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan,
will be retained — preparing Marines to survive the
deadly and proliferating threat of improvised explosive
devices, or IEDs.
“The current IED-dense ITX for OEF bound units
will remain in place while Marine forces continue to
participate in OEF,” Maj. Richard S. Maidens, the
deputy head of the Counter IED Section at TECOM,
said in the response.
U.S. MARINE CORPS
Marines with 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, maneuver M1A1 Abrams
tanks toward simulated enemy positions during the mechanized assault course
at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.,
June 23. The Marines were participating in Integrated Training Exercise 4-13,
which utilized assets from Ground, Air and Logistic Combat Elements in a live,
virtual, constructive battalion exercise.
ITX, however, will involve more training in larger
units, including multiple battalions and supporting
units, conducting integrated maneuvers such as assaults
on defended positions, defense against counterattacks
and an extended combined-arms, live-fire exercise
incorporating air and ground supporting fires. There is
less engagement with hired ethnic role players and more
with Marines serving as an opposing force and as
instructors and monitors, called “coyotes.”
Because future deployments are more likely to
require Marine units deploying into austere environ-
ments without established supply systems, the ITX will
include logistics elements working with the ground
combat units. Most of the Marine units in Afghanistan
have operated from prepared bases or outposts sup-
ported by an established logistics network.
Illustrating the scope and complexity of the ITX, the
Air Ground Combat Center’s briefing document said
the exercise force includes “each of the MAGTF’s sub-
The Ground Combat Element (GCE) is designed to be
two reinforced infantry battalions, augmented as available
by tanks, assault amphibious vehicles, light armored vehi-
cles, combat engineers and artillery batteries.
The Logistics Combat Element comprises a Combat
Logistics Regiment headquarters and either a Combat
Logistics Battalion or an Engineer Support Battalion.