View Full Version : OIF scenario shakes Marines in San Diego

07-21-05, 10:59 AM
OIF scenario shakes Marines in San Diego
MCB Camp Pendleton
Story by Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis

SAN DIEGO (July 8, 2005) -- With cars exploding, improvised explosive devices detonating and rocket-propelled grenades screaming past your head, Marine life can be a horror flick — and Stu Segall is the Stephen King of military training.

Segall’s Strategic Operations Studio recreates grisly, heart-stopping, tactical scenarios to prepare law enforcement and military personnel for “tomorrow’s threat.”

That’s why Camp Pendleton-based 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company conducted their security and stabilization operations training at Strategic Ops — Segall’s movie set for producing mayhem and less-macabre modes of action-packed military training.

Strategic Ops premiered its latest SASO production July 8 — an explosive performance that threw everything at the Marines — with a little help from cast and crew.

Actresses veiled their faces. Actors prepared their weapons. Both took their places in the city.

Meanwhile, special-effects guys, perched high above the city on roofs, reflected on the mission while awaiting the call to “action.”

“I feel honored because it’s contributing to saving Marines’ lives. To me that’s meaningful — more than movies, which are fun,” said Robert W. Hutchins, a special-effects technician.

Waiting for an instructor’s signal, Hutchins holds his finger over the explode button.

“The more practice they get here, the less (bloopers) in Iraq,” Hutchins said.

Fire teams patrolled haltingly around buildings, crunching gravel and tightly grasping their weapons as they advanced.

Instructors from the Quantico, Va.-based Urban Warfare Training Center coached them throughout the patrol.

“I volunteered to make sure Marines get their training for Iraq,” said Sgt. Loretto J. Mataacosta, a UWTC instructor.

“Keep moving!” could be heard over various verbal quarrels between fire teams.

When there wasn’t any action, instructors discretely radioed the special effects crew to create it.

It’s just a rehearsal -- one designed to ensure Marines can handle the chaos when the curtain really goes up.

Mataacosta serves as the rainmaker, in effect. He simply says “They’re not moving.”

Then “ka-boom!” Parts and panels flail through the air as Hutchins blows up the car where the Marines are posted.

Powerful propane flames engulf the vehicle, leaving the familiar smell of carbon behind.

“I do this so they could get familiar with the chaos — the smells, sounds and explosions,” Mataacosta said.

When the smoke clears, an amputee actor appears, shrieking and holding his bloody nub.

“The casualties are what makes it real. Corpsmen have ‘real wounds’ to fix,” said Maj. J. Cody Allee, 1st ANGLICO’s executive officer.

As the sun slowly melts over the city, the training intensifies.

Besides night vision goggles for a select few, the only source of light is coal burning atop tin barrels scattered throughout the recreated city.

Arabic music weaves its way through narrow passageways, echoing off dark corners of buildings.

“The sounds and the atmosphere (are) difficult to get anywhere else,” Allee said.

As if that weren’t enough, the actors complicate the situation by acting confused and disoriented.

Marines from ANGLICO were grateful for the pandemonium produced by Segall’s crew — and the chance to carry out a realistic, though mock mission.

“Clearing skills are a necessity. If you don’t do it, you lose it,” said Sgt. Pablo Lopez, a radio chief and operator.

“IED training is above everything, but complacency kills,” said Cpl. Frank Gutierrez, a radio chief and operator, who has deployed twice to Iraq.

“It pays off 10 times when you get to Iraq,” added Lopez.


07-21-05, 12:31 PM
I went through this training...It was ok....lol..kind of cheesy when your in the 'ville but the kill house was pretty awesome ..that was some outstanding training.