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Lava Dogs blast through close quarters battle training

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 5/02/2004

Story by Lance Cpl. Megan L. Stiner

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay(April 30, 2004) -- The Deep Reconnaissance Platoon confidently creeps into the enemy establishment, knowing that once inside it is basically on its own. Only a group of Marines formed to provide security and to block any avenue of approach guard the perimeter of the area. Luckily for the Marines inside the building, the outside security platoon is more than prepared to handle this particular job.

Fifty Marines from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, were hand selected by the battalion to participate in a two-week training course that could land them a position in the Maritime Special Purpose Force security platoon, or even as a trailer for the DRP's upcoming deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

According to Gunnery Sgt. Irvin N. Howard, a close quarters battle (CQB) instructor (with III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan), battalions look for seasoned or semi-senior platoons containing Marines with initiative who are able to quickly grasp unique tactical skills when choosing Marines needed for the type of combat the 31st MEU could encounter.

Special Operations Training Group Marines from Okinawa, Japan, have been instructing 1/3 Marines in preparation for the MEU assignment. The SOTG instructors train and critique the Lava Dogs in everything from their weapons retention to their close combat tactics. The close quarters battle training is designed to prepare the infantry Marines for close combat operations in a wartime environment.

According to Sgt. Michael V. Perella, another CQB instructor, SOTG, III MEF, the first week of close quarter battle training involves applying learned techniques. The SOTG instructors throw new techniques at the infantry Marines at an incredibly fast pace.

Ever since April 19, the Bravo Company Marines have been honing CQB techniques, shooting 136,000 rounds in one particular week, according to Howard. They ran through close combat drills each day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., he explained, then engaged targets between 40 and 50 times in one day. They split into two relays of 25 Marines each, and rotated between firing and staying hydrated under a tent set up for them at the Range Training Facility aboard Kaneohe Bay.

They focused on shooting on the move and on engaging multiple targets -- areas that they may not receive a lot of training with on a regular basis, said Perella.

"Out of every 50 Marines, between five and eight will not qualify in the methods learned that week," Perella explained regarding the level of difficulty at CQB training.

Marines who do qualify move on to an indoor training environment, and they eventually qualify for a position as a trailer in the DRP.

"The Marines will break down into two- and three-man teams, and [they will] maneuver through rooms, identifying enemy targets from non-enemy combatant targets, reacting according to the situation," said Perella.

The one-to-six ratio of instructors to students at CQB training provides an effective and safe learning environment for Marines. The techniques and methods used should be taught to all Marines, said Howard, who explained that CQB is only associated with special operations teams.

"This is definitely beneficial training for all Marines," said Cpl. Timothy G. Burton, 2nd squad leader, Marine Special Forces Security Platoon, regarding preparation for the real battlefield.

Although Burton has never served in combat, he's been told that the CQB training is as close to real combat as he and his fellow Marines will experience.

"We run through the methods that we are more unfamiliar with, and practice dry-firing to ensure we are prepared to qualify," Burton said. "Slowly, but surely, we are gaining confidence in these new methods. Once this training evolution is complete, I feel we will be more than confident in our combatabilities."

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