“IEDs have been the single most effective weapon
against our Marines and Sailors. As we continue to stay
focused on supporting current operations in Afghanistan, TECOM is ensuring that it captures the
hard-won lessons of the recent conflicts in the appropriate mediums.
“IEDs have produced more casualties in Iraq and
Afghanistan than all other weapons combined over the
past decade” and have evolved into “the threat weapon
of choice in that theater,” Maidens said.
The future of the counter-IED instruction at ITX
will rely heavily on the vision and threat that Marine
Corps headquarters and Marine Corps Combat
Development Command develop, he continued.
“As the Marine Corps reorients to its traditional
expeditionary and amphibious missions, it will have to
prioritize resources to ensure that all missions are met.
This will necessarily include adjusting conventional
threat templates to include the use of IEDs as the primary casualty producing weapon system on the battlefield,” Maidens said.
But the ITX training obviously goes far beyond
A Feb. 2 San Diego Union-Tribune report on the first
ITX noted that 2/4 engaged in small-unit exercises to
sharpen individual and team skills, then came together
for the larger, more comprehensive missions.
U.S. MARINE CORPS
Assaultmen with Company B, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine
Regiment, fire a Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault
Weapon toward an “enemy” bunker at Range 410A during
Integrated Training Exercise 4-13 at Marine Corps Air
Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif., June
18. Range 410A allows Marines the opportunity to work
on small-unit leadership by completing a series of obsta-
cles that involve a platoon-sized element.
The simulated combat drills included use of the
RQ- 7 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle to scout for
enemy positions and Marine scout-sniper teams using
laser designators to guide Marine and Air Force jets to
bomb simulated enemy tanks and armored personnel
carriers on Twentynine Palms’ large target ranges,
according to the report.
Marine UH- 1 Huey and AH- 1 Super Cobra helicopters followed with gun and rocket runs, augmented by
barrages from Marine tanks, artillery and mortars.
Then the infantry raced toward the objective in AAV7
assault amphibious vehicles and finished the assault on
foot, the Union-Tribune reported.
Marines have not seen that style of combined-arms
attack since the violent battles for Ramadi and Fallujah
in Iraq a decade ago.
But future ITXs will include “several new and
dynamic training events” that go far beyond the ranges
and operating areas at Twentynine Palms, the combat
center’s briefing said. Among them are a Long Range
Raid/Noncombatant Evacuation Operation “that
requires detailed planning and integration between the
GCE and the ACE,” according to the briefing.
Ground Marines will use assault support aircraft,
most likely MV- 22 Ospreys, and/or KC-130s to fly
from Twentynine Palms to the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif.,
or Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., to seize
the airfield, conduct a raid on the objective and
“Tactical fixed-wing aircraft will conduct aerial refu-
eling operations while providing close air support, and
rotary wing aircraft will refuel using Forward Arming
and Refueling Points,” the briefing said. “The objective
area of this event is located 280 nautical miles from
[Twentynine] Palms and requires considerable plan-
ning and preparation to execute.”
The ITX also will use other training facilities in the
region, including the Chocolate Mountains Aerial
Gunnery Range in Niland, Calif.
“The use of these varied and wide-ranging facilities
will enable robust exercise of command and control,
distributed operations and joint interoperability,” the
The Union-Tribune report noted that the 2nd
Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Robert Weiler, faulted his
Marines for poor light discipline at night between
assaults, which he attributed to the “FOB mentality”
developed during multiple Afghan deployments in
which they spent their time between missions in the relative security of the fortified forward operating bases.
Lapses in discipline like that could be fatal in a
high-intensity conflict against an enemy with artillery
and skilled observers. ■