CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marines with 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted a dynamic scenario-based field exercise that forced them to operate in multiple environments on different missions in only a few hours. The Marines embarked on a CH-53 Super Stallion Helicopter from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms and back, July 17, 2015.
The company training cell dedicated several months to planning and developing this training exercise. They disseminated the plan to the team leaders, but did not make them aware of two follow-on missions they would receive.
Master Sgt. Brendan McKinery, future operations and air planner chief, wanted his Marines to see the diversity of their occupation and prepare them for their upcoming deployment.
“We have an element that’s going to be deploying with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, and we are getting them up to speed on the kinds of real missions they might end up seeing,” said McKinery. “What this entailed today specifically is pushing the Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel piece, dealing with an enemy weapons cache and then an embassy reinforcement mission.”
As the Marines departed Twentynine Palms after sanitizing the wreckage of a UH-1 Huey Helicopter, destroying ordnance, and retrieving sensitive electronic components, they moved out thinking their job was done for the day.
“Upon our exfil, we got back on the bird and received a fragmentary order saying there was another mission that required our attention and it turned out to be an enemy weapons cache in a remote village we needed to destroy,” Staff Sgt. Austin Brian, EOD team leader.
The Marines were left with only a few minutes to prepare a plan for the follow-on mission, but they hit the ground running and accomplished their goal in a timely manner.
As the Marines approached Camp Pendleton, they executed the last part of the exercise. They were tasked with securing and clearing an embassy that had been fired upon by a rocket.
“Due to the nature of combat operations, plans can very quickly change and as a result, you need to be able to move on the fly and be very fluid,” said McKinery. “You have to be able to adapt to and dominate that situation.”
Along with their other responsibilities, the EOD Marines deploying with SPMAGTF – CR – CC will be integrated with a TRAP force tasked with being the fast reaction team in the region. They will often be tethered to a notification plus 30-minute window, meaning they have to be geared up, on the aircraft, and moving to respond in just minutes.
“TRAP is a total different ball game than typical EOD response,” said Brian. “So we’re prepping for TRAP as well as the follow-on [missions] that you wouldn’t expect because the real world is unpredictable.”
McKinery said that this dynamic scenario-based training is exactly what his Marines need to be prepared for deployment. “When it comes down to it and you’re faced with these challenges in the real world, it makes it easier having dealt with pain and tough scenarios in the training environment and I think they did really well given the dynamics of the circumstances.”