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6th ESB puts engineering skills to test at exercise Red Dagger

US Marine Corps News

By Sgt. Ian Leones | June 17, 2016

Marines with Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, based out of Peoria, Illinois, participated in exercise Red Dagger at various training locations across the northeast United States, June 3-17, 2016.

The Marines were joined by commandos from the 131 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers, British Army, to complete the third consecutive iteration of this bilateral training exercise.

Last June, the Marines of 6th ESB traveled to Dartmoor, England, to conduct training that is normally outside of their comfort zone, such as mountain climbing and rappelling.

"We were there in 2015 and ran several training events across the southern portion of the country," said Capt. Aaron R. Scroggins, the company commander, Company C, 6th ESB. "The year prior to that, we were in Quantico, Virginia, working on improvements of the base."

This year's training began at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where the troops conducted rifle, pistol and demolition ranges.

"We based all of these ranges on how the Marine Corps trains," said Scroggins. "When we went to the pistol range, we used the Marine Corps pistol qualification as the basis for the training. We based our rifle training around Table Two and built on it from there. For demolitions, since both of our units share that capability, we based it off our schoolhouse training."

For the British commandos, familiarization with the Marines' weapon systems and techniques proved to be valuable knowledge.

"I really like to work with foreign weapons and equipment to work out the pros and cons of it," said Staff Sgt. Andy Higgins, troop staff sergeant with 131 CSRE. "I think it broadens my horizons within the military to use equipment like the M16."

The Marines and commandos then moved to Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, to conduct engineering operations, which included various construction and renovation projects.

"We have been able to work on several constructions projects, which include construction of a parking lot by our motor transport support Marines, and various building improvements and renovations around Fort Indiantown Gap by our combat engineers," said Scroggins.

Having integrated the Marines and British commandos into three platoons for the duration of the training, the troops completed a final field exercise, a simulated engineering mission in support of a regimental combat team.

"For our final field exercise, we are mentoring and evaluating our platoon commanders because the platoons are integrated with Marines and the British commandos." said Scroggins. "Right now we have two Marine lieutenants serving as platoon commanders and a British commando lieutenant serving as the third. We've mixed it up by giving each platoon commander a platoon sergeant from the other unit. By doing that and keeping a good mix all around, we've been able to get that integration, the best practices from each unit and really nail down how to work together effectively."

Even though the troops do not share the same procedures, they are able to build off of each other's knowledge and gain respect for each other's strengths.

"They have a very different way of doing things, but it often leads to the same end result," said Lance Cpl. Matthew J. Wolfe, a team leader with Company C, 6th ESB. "The biggest thing I've learned from them is an attitude. Those guys stay positive no matter what. I've never heard them complain once. It's very humbling and eye opening."

The eye opening exchange of ideas drives this exercise and builds a lasting relationship with a partner nation.

"Overall, Red Dagger has been an outstanding event in just building personal relationships and being able to use that to build better Marines," said Scroggins. "Every time that these Marines come away from something like this, it creates massive changes on how they view the world. They get to see how other nations do things, then turn around and ask how they can improve and what other things they can do to become more effective."

With plans to keep the exercise going well into the future, the Marines of Company C will continue to keep their skill sets relevant and be ready to respond when the nation calls.



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