CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines and sailors of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) are cycling through the Predeployment Training Program aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., before heading to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom early next year.
The five-day course gives the students a better understanding of the obstacles they may encounter while deployed and the importance of knowing the Afghan culture before going.
“It’s a good wake-up call,” said Master Sgt. Thomas Ciccarelli, PTP staff noncommissioned officer in charge and a native of South Lake Tahoe, Calif. “(PTP) gets the Marines in the mindset before they have to go.”
Throughout the week, Marines and sailors take cultural classes to give them a better understanding of the people, geography and traditions of the southwest Asian country. They also learn a few basic phrases in Dari and Pashto — the two languages most predominantly spoken in Afghanistan. Included in the training are administrative and first aid classes, vehicle rollover training, as well as a day on the rifle range to refresh and sharpen their combat marksmanship. All sessions are loaded with vital information.
“The information they get during PTP is really good,” said Sgt. Joshua Chenette, PTP cadre, and a native of Bantam, Conn. “They learn a lot, the feedback about the information they get from the instructors is always positive.”
Whether the session is taught in the classroom or as a practical application portion outdoors, it is important to tune into each lesson, said Chenette.
“You never know when you could be put in a situation where this information would be very beneficial,” said Sgt. Daniel Sallee, assistant force deployment planning and execution chief and Lafayette, Ind., native. “Anything is possible. One might spend seven to nine months of their deployment inside the base and one day might find himself going on a convoy or a patrol. It's happened before, and I'm sure it will happen again.”
All Marines and sailors attached to I MEF (Fwd) are required to complete the PTP course prior to deploying with the unit in early 2014.