View Full Version : MCLB Barstow, NTC Fort Irwin share SRT training ops

12-28-03, 07:15 AM
MCLB Barstow, NTC Fort Irwin share SRT training ops
Submitted by: MCLB Barstow
Story Identification Number: 2003121812944
Story by Lance Cpl. Andy J. Hurt

MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif.(Dec. 18, 2003) -- A handful of Marines and soldiers went head-to-head recently when a joint service training exercise brought MCLB Barstow and NTC Fort Irwin deep into the high desert at NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex.

The objective: train soldiers and Marines in the fundamentals and general tactics of a special reaction team, or SRT, utilizing M4 rifles, MP5 assault weapons, and the classic cold steel of an M9 sidearm, loaded to the teeth with simunition, or "sim" rounds.

The training began in the birth of the dawn hours Dec. 12 at MCLB Barstow's Provost Marshal's Office. Sleepy-eyed Marines stood by for a standard SRT gear issue, including body armor with front and back ballistic plates, kneepads, drop holsters, goggles, ballistic shields and a few thousand sim rounds.

Once the Marines were prepared for a rigorous day's training, a convoy of white government vehicles snaked its way down Fort Irwin road, creaking to halt at NTC's PMO headquarters.

It was there that the Marines met with their comrades-in-arms, soldiers from NTC's very own SRT, sized each other up, and made the final leg of the journey into the high desert valleys of Goldstone.

The training area was nary a sight to be seen. An abandoned office building, which lay beneath the towering presence of a 150-foot satellite dish, a relic of the end of the Cold War in the early '90s.

Day one of the nearly three-day evolution focused on the fundamentals and origins of an SRT.

"This isn't just dealing with a drunk on a Saturday night," stressed Army Sgt. Adam Gutierrez. "Everything is stepped up a level."

Gutierrez, a military policeman from Fort Irwin and SRT member, gave classes most of the morning to the Marines and soldiers, covering such topics as entry weapons, verbal commands and two-man room entries.

The students then snapped to a session of practical applications, "stacking up" in twos and engaging half-sized dummies, affectionately named "Ivans."

"We call them Ivans because they used to have red stars painted on them, after the Russians," said Army Sgt. Robert Angulo Jr., SRT member of 10 months.

Angulo graduated from the Army's Law Enforcement Training Division SRT School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

The SRT course is accomplished in phases, said Angulo, of about two weeks per phase.

After running through a few two-man drills, the Marines and soldiers were ready for real-world situations.

Staff Sgt. Donald Hopkins, physical security chief at MCLB Barstow's PMO, ordered the Marines out of the building for a briefing.

"There's five maniacs in the building, and it's total chaos," said Hopkins. "Your job is to get in there and neutralize the situation."

With a short deliberation of tactics peppered with the Marine Corps' own brand of four-letter words, the Marines stacked up and entered the building.

Within minutes, screams of pain rang through the empty corridors and, one-by-one, the Marines shuffled outside, comparing wounds and paint splatters on their uniforms. When an "index" was called, signaling a cease-fire and end of the exercise, the Marines were given a feedback session from Hopkins, sighting positive and negative aspects of the event.

The day continued with force-on-force drills, usually involving maniacs occupying the premises, as the Marine's skills improved.

At the day's end, Hopkins counseled the Marines, noting that vast tactical improvement was demonstrated throughout the day.

Day two introduced new challenges to the Marines mostly from a PMO night shift, but also a few from Headquarters Battalion S-4. Four- and six-man room entries were covered, and once again, force-on-force exercises were conducted.

Marines learned to be aware of potential danger zones when clearing a building, including avoiding the "funnel of death," or doorways, practically engaging targets that may not be seen, modified weapons handling for close quarters combat and room entry travel patterns, similar to football plays like the buttonhook, said Angulo.

But as the sun went down on the second day, instead of packing up the vans and moving out, the Marines and soldiers cracked chem-lites as Hopkins lit a lantern and conducted night-ops training with night-vision goggles and flashlights.

"It was really interesting," said Lance Cpl. Melissa Coleman, a military policeman with MCLB Barstow's PMO.

"(Opposing forces) had the NVGs, and all we had were flashlights," she added, "so they could see us, but we could blind them with the flashlights."

Coleman said the Marines continued to train until approximately 1 a.m., and then retired to their sleeping systems staged inside the building.

Overall, said Coleman, the joint training was an invaluable asset to those who participated.

"It's good to learn what the other branches of the service do, and how they're different."


Lance Cpl. Quyen Au, a dog handler from MCLB Barstow's K-9 unit, sights in with a holographic laser sight mounted on an M4 rifle during a Special Reactions Team (SRT) joint service training exercise with soldiers form NTC Fort Irwin at NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex Dec. 10-12. Au was one of 10 Marines from various units at MCLB who participated in the exercise. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Andy J. Hurt