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Special effects add new dimension to training

US Marine Corps News

12/2/2011 By Lance Cpl. Mark W. Stroud, Marine Corps Bases Japan


Marines have worked to make countless training evolutions more realistic based on this mantra and the San Diego-based special effects and acting company, Strategic Operations, has helped bring training experiences at Enhanced Mojave Viper closer to that of combat than ever before.

Combat Logistics Battalion 4 Marines participated in an improvised explosive device response drill that was enhanced by Strategic Operations at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Nov. 24.

“(Strategic Operations) added a new dimension to the training,” said Sgt. Patrick S. Wros, security leader, 2nd Platoon, Company B, CLB-4, Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “They added real people with real looking wounds … it provided the Marines with a better idea of what they could face in country.”

The training was part of EMV, the battalion’s final training exercise before deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom early next year.

The IED response drill was made more realistic by special effects; including smoke, explosions, heavily-damaged tactical vehicles and professional actors with simulated wounds.

“The training provides good insight as to what is possible in (combat) and what the Marines will need to know to save each other’s lives,” said Capt. Victor V. Flores, commanding officer, Company B.

The fundamentals included skill sets that the Marines had been working on throughout EMV, such as sweeping the area for secondary IEDs, setting up security, establishing a casualty collection point, providing medical care for the casualties and reporting relevant information back to the combat operations center.

“(EMV) is cumulative,” said 2nd Lt. Matthew E. Danielson, platoon commander, 2nd Platoon. “Every exercise builds on the training events before it and incorporates all the different skills that were used in the past.”

Combining these skill sets into a single training evolution gave the Marines confidence they could respond to a hard-hit IED strike where a vehicle was immobilized or destroyed, according to Danielson.

Instructors known as coyotes with the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group provided feedback to the Marines on their performance in the exercise.

“For most of our Marines (the deployment) is the first time they will see other Marines in harm’s way, that being combat,” said Flores. “Any after-action reports or lessons from those that have gone before them will help.”

The feedback from experienced instructors helped the Marines benefit from the realistic training and take one more step in preparing for their upcoming deployment.

“It was a reality check,” said Wros. “It gave the Marines the opportunity to think on their feet and apply the fundamentals of what they’ve learned.”

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