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Special Operations Training Group hosted a helicopter raid training exercise for Marines from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 17, in preparation for their assignment to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, scheduled to depart next year. The raid challenged Marines both physically and mentally with rugged terrain and a resistant enemy force.

Photo by Cpl. Scott Reel

I MEF Unit designs pre-deployment training for 3/5

12 Dec 2013 | Lance Cpl. Seth Starr

Special Operations Training Group hosted a helicopter raid training exercise for Marines from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 17, in preparation for their assignment to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, scheduled to depart next year. 

SOTG’s role under I Marine Expeditionary Force is to provide training to units and evaluate their performance in order to sharpen their skills as infantry Marines.

On top of his experience as an infantry Marine, Sgt. Nathan Sleeman provided guidance as an SOTG Raids Instructor for over a year. 

“It was 3/5’s first raid, so it’s beginning with small steps for them,” said Sleeman. “We’re trying to get a lot of these guys out of their ‘clear, hold and build’ mindset, because they’ve been operating out in Afghanistan for a while and are training up for their MEU.”

Sgt. Jacob Fernandez, a squad leader with 3/5 Kilo Company said the exercise prepared him for the transition out of the Middle East and focused on a more global perspective.

“The MEU will be able to deploy at a moment’s notice anywhere in the world when needed, whether it’s going into embassies to support American assets or contributing to natural disaster relief out in the Pacific,” Fernandez said.

Sleeman said Marines pride themselves on training how they fight.  The raid reflected the realism they look for.

“We gave them a casualty as soon as they pulled into the objective,” said Sleeman. “They treated him and pulled him away to the Casualty Collection Point. About five seconds after that we gave them another gunshot wound.”

Despite the challenges of the training environment, Fernandez’s experience in theater translates into leading his Marines as he’s been trained to do. 
 
“One of my team leaders went down as a casualty, and that was an obstacle for my guys,” said Fernandez. “They really didn’t know what to do at first so I had to start pushing them up and continue on to our objective. The enemy was shooting at us the whole time, but they went down once we started effectively engaging them. It was pretty realistic training for us.”

The realistic training completed during their time with SOTG will aid the Marines of 3/5 during their deployment.