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Marines with 1st Marine Division participate in a three-week urban operations course led by 1st Marine Division Schools, Urban Leaders Course at Camp Pendleton March 8, 2016. During the course, unit leaders cover urban terrain tactics like combat marksmanship, dynamic breaching, close quarters battle and room clearing. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Justin E. Bowles/ Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Justin Bowles

Urban Leaders Course: The Experts in Urban Warfare

23 Mar 2016 | Lance Cpl. Justin Bowles I Marine Expeditionary Force

The Marine stepped in and tripped the masked adversary to the ground. The squad leader and his fellow Marine attempted to detain the antagonist, but he found his way back to his feet, grappling with the squad leader, trying to retrieve his weapon.

“Bang!” echoed a simunition round from a Marine’s M-16A4 service rifle. This marked the end of the training scenario as the staff sergeant, who simulated the enemy combatant, critiqued how they handled the scenario.

Unit leaders from around 1st Marine Division participated in a three-week urban operations course led by 1st Marine Division Schools, March 8, 2016 at Camp Pendleton. During the course, unit leaders cover urban terrain tactics like combat marksmanship, dynamic breaching, close quarters battle and room clearing.

Some of the Marines’ urban environment skills have atrophied because their only exposure to Military Operations in Urban Terrain was during basic training at the School of the Infantry, according to Staff Sgt. Matthew P. Muro, chief instructor of Urban Leaders Course with 1st Marine Division Schools. ULC allows the key leaders from squads throughout the division to come together and learn MOUT from a select group of individuals so that the training across the division is standardized.

As the population of the world grows, humankind is not tearing down structures, but building structures up. This means less conflict will take place in open terrain and more in urban environments, according to Muro, a native of Boerne, Texas. Focusing their skills in kinetic engagement, they make sure the unit leaders know how to secure and operate in a multi-faceted “urban jungle.” The instructors play an opposing force that assaults and harasses them through this MOUT town as much as they can.

The unit leaders who come to ULC are receiving extended training in MOUT so they can take these skills and teach them to their Marines, according to Cpl. Greg R. Terrazas III, a rifleman with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

The training Marines get at ULC is complex because they learn how to live in a simulated patrol base and different scenarios are thrown at them, according to Cpl. Tylor W. Snow, a rifleman with Company D, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

The instructors have the Marines practice drills repeatedly to instill the stress of being tired. As they go through the training, the Marines are beginning to adopt new considerations in their decision-making process.

“Being here, I’ve been able to make more tactically-sound decisions like picking patrol bases where we can see down the two main avenues of approach as opposed to picking a spot where we can become surrounded,” said Snow, a native of Itasca, Texas.

As Muro’s time at Urban Leaders Course comes to an end, he feels confident that ULC will soon become a formalized learning center across the Marine Corps.

“What we are hoping to gain from this is that, on a small unit leader level, the division creates subject matter experts that can teach their Marines these critical skills that will be necessary if they do deploy overseas to a combat environment,” said Muro.


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