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31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines train for urban combat

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. Henry Antenor | III MEF | February 12, 2014

OKINAWA, Japan -- A team of Marines lurk through the jungle near a building held by an enemy force. Machine gun fire tears through the air from a rooftop, answered by suppressing fire from Marines in Humvee turrets nearby. With the enemy's attention diverted, the Marines charge the building.

Marines with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, separated into teams and faced-off to practice Military Operations on Urban Terrain in a mock urban village here, Feb. 8.

To enhance the training experience, the Marines used Special Effects Small Arms Marking System (SESAMS) rounds, which are 5.56mm training rounds similar to paintballs.

"[We] used SESAMS to mimic the realism of combat and make training as realistic as possible," said 1st Lt. Gary J. Goodwin, a platoon commander with Weapons Co., BLT 2/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Brockport, N.Y.

One team of 15 Marines dispersed into multiple buildings to act as insurgents while the other team of 15 formed into the assault force. The attacking Marines, equipped with their M-16A4 and M4 rifles, rode in Humvees armed with a Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun and a M240G medium machine gun. The defending "insurgents" were also armed with an M240G medium machine gun, their service rifles and simulated improvised explosive devices. After the fight was complete, the Marines switched sides and started again.

"My job on the offensive side is to isolate the buildings [with a mounted M240G]," said Lance Cpl. Wesley Rhea, a machine gunner with Weapons Company, BLT 2/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Oklahoma City. "On the (defensive) side, I used my machine gun to harass from the rooftop."

The Marines used the training to hone their room clearing tactics in pairs or four man teams. They also practiced spotting and identifying IED's and traps while keeping consistent radio communications. The Marines trained in supporting fires as well, calling in assistance from the machine guns in the Humvee turrets to suppress aggressive enemies.

The platoon of Marines are assigned to Combined Anti-Armor Team 1 and specialize in destroying armored vehicles and supporting foot-mobile infantry as a mechanized element. But this training took the normally-mounted CAAT 1 Marines out of their element to refresh their close combat tactics.

"We usually support from the mounted position," said Cpl. Codey D. Sorteberg, an anti-tank missile man with Weapons Co., BLT 2/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Issaquah, Wash. "But this event put our boots on the ground to clear the room ourselves."

The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps' force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region and is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU.

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