View Full Version : Recon Marines get refocused at Fort A.P. Hill

10-28-03, 06:46 AM
Recon Marines get refocused at Fort A.P. Hill
Submitted by: MCB Camp Lejeune
Story Identification Number: 2003102781354
Story by Cpl. Ryan S. Scranton

FORT A.P. HILL, Va.(Oct. 27, 2003) -- As the Marines of Company C, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion unzipped the doors of their frosted tents, their attention was fixed on the steam rising from the field mess, not preparing for a conflict in the desert heat. As the training began, here Sept. 30, more than 20 Marines of 1st Platoon followed the sound of alarm clocks with the deafening sound of automatic weapons.

Four hundred miles north of Camp Lejeune, N.C., Marines from the battalion were training on the ranges here, Oct 3-17, preparing for potential future missions.

After recently returning from Iraq and taking 30 days of leave away from the battalion, Cpl. Lynn L. Westover, team leader, 1st Platoon said it was easy to get sidetracked by the comforts of home, and this training was needed to get their heads back in the game.

The exercise was vital for many of the Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans in the platoon to get refocused on warfighting, according to Westover.

"This is a great opportunity to get us back into the training mindset," said the Pinehurst, N.C., native.

"Most of us were in the same platoon in Iraq, and we're all kind of experiencing the same thing. It's good that we are all back training together," said Westover.

Reconnaissance operations often require sending six-man teams out to gather information to provide the battalion commander with a clear picture of the battlefield. Due to the independent nature of these operations, each team member must have a firm grasp of procedures and mission objectives.

Although the majority of the Marines in the platoon are combat veterans, with about 70-85 percent having seen action in Iraq, they still have a mix of old and new troops, according to Capt. Ronald E. Reed, the company's commanding officer.

"This is a good opportunity for us to familiarize the new Marines with our standard operating procedures."

The exercise also allowed the combat veterans to share their first-hand knowledge of combat tactics with the less experienced Marines. As they went through their drills, shouts of "contact right" or "contact front" were heard, warning the team that they had been engaged. The rattle of the Marines' M-4 carbines and squad automatic weapons followed their shouts. As they moved out of the wood-line, the greener Marines looked to the more experienced for guidance while adjusting their positions, applying suppressive fire and bounding rearward.

"This gives us the chance to bring what we have learned from our experiences to the table, share it with each other and pass it on to the new Marines in the platoon," said Westover.

For the new Marines, the drills may have seemed like nothing more than training. But for the vets in the platoon and its commanding officer, potential contact with the enemy is all too real.

"We go through a lot of time and effort to ensure that we don't make contact, but you have to plan for the possibility," said Reed. "These Marines operate independently. It's their actions within the first moments of making contact that will determine their survivability."

The foundation of their training rested on mastering the basics before progressing to more complex techniques.

From putting two shots into a target while standing to more elaborate maneuvers while on patrol, each skill was extensively rehearsed before moving on to the next.

"Our efforts here have been concentrated on taking these Marines through every step of the process," said Reed "As training progresses, so do the Marines."

"Fort A.P. Hill has a wide variety of ranges and has allowed us to get these Marines away from home, focused on training and get them back to the," said Reed.