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CSSD-37 conducts combat skills training to prepare for Balikatan

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 1/21/2004

Story by Sgt. Danny L. Patterson

CAMP HANSEN - -- Nearly 120 Marines and Sailors currently attached to Combat Service Support Detachment-37 participated in Combat Skills Training Jan. 10-16 to prepare for Exercise Balikatan 04.

Although CSSD-37's primary mission during Balikatan is not primarily focused on combat operations, Gunnery Sgt. Eric T. Baker, tactics instructor for Tactics, Readiness and Training, 3rd Force Service Support Group, said it is important for the Marines to be ready for any situation.

"Every Marine is a basic rifleman, whether a Marine is fixing vehicles or issuing supplies, he needs to know what to do if he is confronted by an enemy," the Trenton, N.J., native said. "Someday he will be able to pass these skills to his junior Marines."

The first few days of training started with classes at Camp Kinser where the Marines learned the basic fundamentals of combat skills that would be tested during the next week in the field.

Upon arrival to Landing Zone Falcon, the Marines began with land navigation where they practiced map reading, compass skills and night navigation. Next, the Marines began sharpening their skills with patrolling which included ambushing, squad formations and tactical movements.

The next item on their agenda was rear area security, a skill that is very important to support Marines according to Baker.

"Rear area security is something support Marines must know in a combat situation to protect themselves," said Baker, who recently served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. "A unit can never over-emphasize rear area security."

For four days, the Marines lived and slept in the field. The rigors of the field did not seem to bother the motivated Marines who appeared hungry for training.

"The training was pretty challenging because we are not used to being in the field every day," said Lance Cpl. Jason P. Lewis, parachute rigger for CSSD-37, and Michigan City, Ind., native. "As Marines, we adapt and overcame and greeted every situation with anticipation."

The final day of training was live-fire, which would put each Marine's marksmanship skills to the test. After receiving their safety brief, the Marines moved to the gun-line and started sending 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm rounds down range.

After the training was over, Baker said he was confident that the Marines were ready to tackle any obstacle that they may face during Balikatan.

"I feel these Marines have learned a lot throughout the training. The Marines are both confident and proficient in the skills they have practiced."

Overall, Staff Sgt. Robert Otero, military police chief and force protection officer for CSSD-37, said the training was a success and he looks forward to good things from the Marines while on deployment.

"The Marines' performance has been outstanding," the New York City native said. "In the little time we had to prepare for Balikatan, they have done a great job, I haven't seen a group of Marines come together and perform this way in a long time."

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