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MEF Marines train behind 8-ball in Kuwait

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 3/11/2004

Story by Cpl. Matthew J. Apprendi

CAMP VICTORY, Kuwait(March 11, 2004) -- In case the commanding general ever needs to be evacuated from a "hairy situation," they're the guys tasked with getting it done. So they train to drive like Hollywood stunt men and firefight their way out of jams - for example, being pinned down by a larger enemy force.

The I Marine Expeditionary Force's Personal Security Detachment is busy honing those force-protection skills in Kuwait before moving on to Iraq.

Those skills include convoy-driving tactics, counter-surveillance techniques and identification of improvised explosive devices.

On Feb. 28, the team, composed predominantly of Marine reservists, focused on driving - specifically, evacuating the MEF general from a tight spot.

One simulated situation had detachment members and the general being attacked by an enemy vehicle, whose occupants were role-playing detachment Marines.

"Most of us have seen combat together," said Sgt. Robert Mendoza, who was mobilized from Camp Pendleton-based 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. "We know we're not going to freeze up when we get into a bad situation - we'll do whatever it takes to bring everyone back safely."

The detachment eluded the aggressors by zipping down a simulated street and executing various evasive driving tactics.

The detachment is composed mostly of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom; others bring relevant experience from their civilian jobs.

"We have a great mix of combat and law enforcement experience," said Sgt. Kristoffer K. Bauer, a native of Redding.

The bulk of the team was mobilized from 4th LAR and 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment.

"Most of us were in Iraq for eight months during the first round," said Mendoza, a native of Houston.

"We have the knowledge of the streets, people and what to look for when driving in convoys," he said.

Their experience derives not only from the battlefield, but also from the Military Mobility Force Protection Course, where detachment members learned mission-specific tactics.

"The great thing about this course was (the instructors) just didn't talk about being in stressful situations in a classroom setting - they put you in real-live scenarios that got your heart pumping," Bauer said.

Scenarios included being outnumbered and trapped in the enemy's "back yard" with only 20 rounds of ammunition between team members, Bauer said.

"This is how we prepared for this mission - putting ourselves in the worst possible situation and learning how to continue to operate effectively," he said.

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