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FAST Marines train in Germany

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200513125425
Story by Master Sgt. Phil Mehringer

PANZER KASERNE, Germany (Jan. 31, 2005) -- Marines from 5th platoon, 3rd Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Company recently spent a week training in the Swabian region of southern Germany. The Marines are near the end of their six-month rotation to Rota, Spain, providing a quick reaction force for the U.S Navy's Sixth Fleet and the U.S. European Command.

The Marines arrived in Stuttgart, home to U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe, where during their stay they completed a training package consisting of small unit infantry skills as well as live-fire drills.

As a theater-wide first response force, the Marines must be ready to operate in any area of their assigned region. The U.S. European Command's area of responsibility includes 91 countries, ranging from Ireland to Russia and from Norway to South Africa.

"What we try to do is conduct training packages throughout the entire theater in an effort to not only focus on METL type training but on embarkation and rapid response at the same time, gaining efficiency and the ability to move," said Capt. Greg Gordon, Platoon Commander.

Operating only a few kilometers from the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche factories, the Marines were able to take advantage of local firing ranges. Offering MOUT facilities, live-fire ranges, and a wooded area for patrolling, the area has, "one stop shopping," according to Capt. Gordon.

"There are no similar MOUT facilities in Rota," said Gordon, from Nashville, Tenn. "Here, the training facilities are all centrally located and provide a wide assortment of training opportunities."

The Marines spent a total of four days in the field honing their patrolling and infantry skills as well as practicing Close Quarter Battle training.

"We have to be ready to transition from an infantry to a security force mind set. That transition has to happen seamlessly and it has to happen instantly, due to the nature of changing operational environments and rules of engagement" said Gordon.

The environment of the field training added additional challenges for the FAST Marines, who had to operate in a 40-degree temperature shift from when they left sunny Rota to their arrival in Germany. The addition of the snow completed the training package.

"We are kind of spoiled with the weather in Rota -- 60 to 70 degrees all of the time," said Lance Cpl. Thomas Ingram, 20-year-old rifleman from Douglas, Wyoming.

Operating in the colder environment made the Marines focus on their clothing. "Watch your layers and try to stay comfortably cool," said PFC Joshua Helton from Wise County, Virginia. "When you are moving a lot you want to stick with the Under Armor, but if you're sitting around in an ambush, make sure you put your fleece on," added the 19 year-old-infantryman. "When the wind starts blowing at one, two or three o'clock in the morning, it gets cold, real cold."

Although maintaining the proper layer of clothing kept the Marines focused, both Helton and Ingram agreed that their biggest challenge was dealing with sleep deprivation. "We had very little sleep," said Helton.

"It's nothing to really complain about," said Helton. "When you go into battle, you're going to have that. They're just trying to get us ready for it."

"Sleep deprivation, cold MREs. Every Marine knows what fun I am talking about," added Ingram.


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