View Full Version : Combat Center brings intense glimpse of urban warfare to Marines

11-18-05, 04:26 PM
Combat Center brings intense glimpse of urban warfare to Marines
Story by:Lance Cpl. Regina N. Ortiz

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.(Nov. 15, 2005) -- As Marines are steadily deploying to fight the war on terrorism, the Marine Corps is progressively preparing for the real deal with an imitation of Iraq’s urban infrastructure in training exercises. There are numerous military operations on urban terrain facilities that attempt to capture the reality of urban warfare.

The MOUT facility at the Combat Center’s Range 215 has replicated the average Middle Eastern village with more than 100 buildings and 260 role players, 50 of them contracted linguists originally from Iraq. Some of the buildings represent an Iraqi police station, an Iraqi Army compound and a “souk,” an Iraqi marketplace, said Lt. Col. Patrick Kline, director of urban warfare training.

“I do feel a lot more confident going out there than I did last time,” said Cpl. Ash Day, team leader, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, who deployed to Iraq last year. “Everything is so realistic, I get flashbacks. The realism is amazing. The way they set up the buildings in proximity, the same as they are in Iraq, is something I haven’t seen at other MOUT facilities.”

There are four training lanes that Marines rotate in and out of throughout the day. One is a vehicle checkpoint, which can appear at any area on a road in Iraq. Another lane is the urban assault, where Marines use paintball rounds to simulate live-fire during encounters with insurgents.

The third lane is the tank and mechanized vehicle integration point, where Marines practice utilizing tanks and other large motor transportation in operations. The fourth lane is the cordon and search, where Marines practice securing an area and searching it.

Throughout the lanes, Marines interact with role players, who are given a profile they are required to follow throughout the training. A third are friendly, another third are neutral and the rest are unfriendly. Marines are put to the test, as they must identify each type of person, whether friendly or life threatening, they come upon during the exercise.

One challenge is picking out non-combatants that are intermixed with insurgents, said Kline.

“This way, we learn how to read people and guess what their motives are with live role-players,” said Day. “You catch on to the way people act, and after a while it’s easy to tell right away what approach to take.”

One main objective of this training aims to create realism to give Marines the cultural awareness needed before they deploy. The training also seeks to give Marines the confidence to interact in an unknown environment, the respect for foreign customs and how to appropriately approach any situation, said Kline.

A new element embedded into training at Range 215, is actual Iraqi natives serving as role players to bring the MOUT facility to life. At the souk, the air is filled with bartering and arguing over the sounds of music and singing in their native language. The scene replicates that of high-density areas Marines will have to patrol through to complete missions. This teaches Marines how to connect with the locals and move through crowded areas, said Kline.

The isolation of the range is another factor to the success of the training. It’s easier for Marines to stay focused and really get into it, said Day.

“I think they should extend the days of the lanes,” said Day. “The training is pretty long as is, but I’d want to spend more time in the MOUT facilities, especially with the young Marines who haven’t deployed yet.”

The Marine Corps is continually improving training by keeping up to date with current tactics insurgents are using in theater. When new incidents occur, the training changes to implement new situations, said Kline.