MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- In the early hours of the morning, two companies of Marines received information that the location of a high-value individual had been found. The mission: apprehend the individual with minimal casualties.
Marines with 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, I MEF, conducted mobile immersion training in order to maintain and develop tactics and procedures within their occupation at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Nov. 16-20, 2015.
This individual was a simulated enemy and was required to be extracted from his location as soon as possible. Although it was a training exercise, the Marines conducted themselves as if every aspect was real and the threat of danger was possible. Within moments, they were suited up and ready to roll out. The Marines were going to succeed one way or the other.
The mission of 1st LEB is to conduct law and order operations to enhance the security environment and promote the rule of law in support of Marine Air Ground Task Force operations. If one of those operations is apprehending and detaining a potentially dangerous individual, 1st LEB must have the training and knowledge to successfully complete that mission.
Mobile immersion training allows Marines to acquire and hone that capability.
Mobile immersion training is a scenario-based training operation in which the marines engage in locating, apprehending and transporting a high-value individual. This type of training is important because there is a possibility that while on deployment Marines may be tasked with apprehending HVIs. The knowledge of how to do so safely and effectively is paramount.
Contracted role-players acted as a population of civilians, suspicious persons or even liaisons to the HVI. 1st LEB was notified that certain individuals with information pertaining to the HVI were hiding within the population.
Throughout the training the Marines gathered information, employed investigative techniques, reacted to simulated improvised explosive devices and performed community outreach with the civilian population to discover the location of the HVI.
For many Marines with 1st LEB, this was their first time participating in a training exercise like this one. The weeklong exercise combines the field environment with conditions that are meant to simulate what Marines may actually face on deployment.
“We have a lot of Marines that are new to the law enforcement battalion,” said Master Sgt. Arturo Bel Monte, the training chief of 1st LEB and a native of Oakland, Calif. “Before they are sent out into the field we put them in extremely realistic exercises like this one. We get to see how they react and help them respond appropriately to these types of situations.”
One unique aspect of mobile immersion training is the interaction between the Marines and the role-players. Marines can potentially deal with populations all around the world while serving in operations. The role-playing aspect of this training is one of its most advantageous elements. Marines learn how to deal with language barriers as well as the interpreters who enable them to communicate across that barrier.
“You’re interacting with people that aren’t Marines, these are contracted role-players who come out here for the training and many of them don’t speak the same language as you,” said Sgt. Calvin Davis, a squad leader with 1st LEB, Company C and a native of Bethalto, Ill. “It gives me the feeling of being forward deployed.”
While the training itself existed on a large scale, it had definite benefits with small unit leadership.
“A big part of this was individual training,” said Capt. Mark A. Ferris, the assistant operations officer for 1st LEB and a native of Whitman, Mass. “Whether it was enhancing the Marines’ ability to extract a target, question suspicious persons or simply operate out of a gun-truck, each Marine got a lot of value out of this.”
On the final morning of the exercise the Marines had dicovered the exact location of the HVI. At 3 a.m., the Marines rolled out to apprehend the HVI. By 3:30 a.m., they had the structure containing the HVI completely surrounded. The moment they moved on the target, screams could be heard from inside the structure. The role-players performed their part as terrified individuals, adding to the intensity and realism of the scenario.
Two women and one man were found inside the building. A struggle ensued in which all three suspects began to fight back against the Marines entering the building. The Marines quickly and effectively detained the suspects through non-lethal means.
All three were taken into custody and one of the individuals was positively identified as the HVI. Through all the chaos of the situation the Marines emerged from the structure safely, successful in their apprehension of the target and in the execution of their training.