Photo Information

Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, practice handling a simulated enraged enemy during the culminating event of 1st Marine Division Schools’ Urban Leaders Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 12, 2015. The course is a 15-day period of instruction that includes classwork, combat marksmanship and physical training in a simulated urban combat environment.

Photo by Pvt. Robert Bliss

Marines remain relevant to shifting battlefield

18 Aug 2015 | Courtesy Story I Marine Expeditionary Force

Marines from 1st and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, participated in a Military Operations in Urban Terrain exercise during 1st Marine Division Schools’ Urban Leaders Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 12, 2015.

The Urban Leaders Course is a 15-day period of instruction that includes classwork, combat marksmanship and physical training in a simulated urban combat environment. The instructors pose as enemy combatants and engage the Marines in a number of real-world scenarios.

This kind of training stresses the importance of close-quarter combat proficiency in response to the more urbanized battlefield encountered today.

“Overall as a force, our concern is going toward the urban [environment],” said Sgt. Matthew Muro, a chief instructor for 1st Marine Division Schools Urban Leaders Course. “The world is being built up; man is not tearing anything down.”

With increased industrialization on a global scale furthering the expanse of metropolitan areas, there is no question that Marines will continue to fight in urban areas.

“We’re honing and refining those small unit leaders’ skills from fire team and squad leaders within the infantry in the urban environment, the three-dimensional battle space and everything that is going to pertain [to those],” said Muro.

Not only is the urban combat environment different from desert fighting, the techniques and approach to mobile operations in urban terrain is different as well, according to Muro. 

The training prepares the Marines for more responsibility being held at the small unit leadership level – the format fire team, according to Sgt. Tyler Tellez, a combat engineer with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion.

The responsibilities are significant enough that a single fire team can clear a house while a second fire team can clear an entirely separate location, added Tellez.

War is an ever changing struggle of power and control, but as it evolves, so must the Marines who fight in it. The Marine Corps will continue to make advanced efforts to provide their personnel with the tools and training necessary to prepare for the changing face of war.

“I do believe it’s extremely vital, given that we’re going to an urban battle space no matter where we’re going to be fighting,” said Muro. “There’s not much more aside from fighting in cities; that’s what we need to be prepared for.” 

As the culminating event for the Urban Leaders Course concluded, the instructors felt confident they were sending their Marines out into the next chapter of urban warfare training with all the tools necessary to meet future challenges head on. The training was intense, comprehensive and physically exhausting; and Marines wouldn’t have it any other way.