CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Yellow and green CS gas enveloped a group of Marines as they cleared an abandoned building from enemy threats. The sound of gunfire echoed loudly throughout the simulated combat town as the Marines took simulated fire from a nearby structure.
This exercise on April 22-23, 2015, was the culminating event of Division School’s Urban Leaders Course. During the three-week course aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment learned how to lead in an urban combat situation.
“We have a lot of great instructors out here and this is actually one of the better courses I’ve been to,” said Sgt. Shea Ramsden, an anti-tank missileman. “The biggest thing I took away from this was refreshing skills on room clearing, actually getting to work with other Marines, and a lot of shoot house; getting the feeling of someone shooting live rounds next to you.”
The instructors were highly involved in the training and acted as the opposing force in the students’ final exercise. In order to make the training as real as possible, they placed simulated Improvised Explosive Devises on doors, fired live training rounds, and exposed them to CS gas and artillery simulations.
“We had Marines from every single company in the battalion,” said Ramsden. “It was cool to get to talk to other guys from other companies and see how they run their squads and see what their standard operating procedures are and kind of just mix and match and figure out what works for everyone.”
Throughout the course, students developed their skills by going through individual level training, said Sgt. Ian Snarr, the chief instructor for Urban Leaders Course. They start with shooting packages and progress to fire team level training in shoot houses. This type of practical training is great for the Marines to take back to their units.
“I think it’s important, because a lot of people are forgetting about urban warfare in general,” said Ramsden. “Coming to this course really just opens up your eyes to how difficult it is to fight in a three dimensional urban environment. It also gets guys focused on the possibility of what could happen in the very near future for Marines.”
Training for mission readiness will keep Marines equipped with the ability to overcome obstacles in times of crisis. The Urban Leaders Course will continue to enhance squad cohesion in urban combat environments and to prepare Marines for leadership roles.