Photo Information

Marines with Mobility Assault Company, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, conduct blow-in-place operations during Exercise Pioneer Express aboard Camp Roberts, Calif., Sept. 4, 2014. The exercise provides an opportunity for both individual and collective training for the Marines and the unit and ensures they remain equipped, ready and relevant for future operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel

Combat engineers test their metal

5 Sep 2015 | Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel I Marine Expeditionary Force

Commanders must be confident that their units are ready for combat at any time, so they use the Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation to test the effectiveness of their training and the skills of their Marines.

Company B, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted their MCCRE Sept. 1-5 during Exercise Pioneer Express at Camp Roberts, California.

The MCCRE is a series of tests that allow leadership to evaluate the wide range of tasks that Marines are trained to complete. This type of evaluation is not usually conducted by the combat engineers alone, but they are adapting it for themselves.

“This is the first time 1st CEB has ever done a MCCRE,” said Lt. Col. Colin Smith, the commanding officer of 1st CEB. “It’s usually infantry who does it.”

The MCCRE is a multi-day, practical application test of each Marine’s skills that requires time in the field with hands on the equipment, said Smith.

“A MCCRE is anywhere from 72 hours to five days of continuous operations,” said Smith.

The Marines were in constant motion from the very first day, responding to scenarios and demonstrating their abilities to apply previous training.

Before the exercise began, the unit conducted training at every level from the fire team to platoon to prepare for the examination.

“Here, it’s game time,” said Gunnery Sgt. Philippe Monroy, a combat engineer with 1st CEB and one of 11 evaluators for the company’s MCCRE. “They’re not here to figure out how to conduct the training, they’re here to execute it and get evaluated.”

Each unit that conducts a MCCRE is tested based on a performance evaluation checklist that is different for each military occupational specialty. The focused evaluations give leaders a clear picture of what their Marines can and cannot do effectively.

“It’s important to have evaluations like this because you have someone from outside the group who has a different perspective who can give you feedback and constructive criticism,” said Monroy. “We can tell them what to work on to make themselves that much better.”

Once the evaluation is complete, the information is passed back to the unit so they can improve their skills, but ultimately it is about making sure they are prepared to perform in a combat environment, said Monroy.

“When it’s all said and done, if they’ve done their mission essential tasks completely, then I can sign off that as a company, they are ready for a deployment,” said Smith.

Challenging training and detailed evaluation ensure that Marines remain ready to respond effectively to emergency situations in increasingly complex environments around the world.