1st Tanks Beats the 'Summer Heat'
Story by Pfc. Michael Gams
Date: 07.02.2009
Posted: 07.02.2009 04:24

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. —Marines and sailors of 1st Tank Battalion worked up a sweat during "Summer Heat," a battalion-level training evolution that began June 26 and ended July 2.

Capt. Stephen Campbell, 1st Tanks operations officer for last year's Summer Heat, said the excersise is essentially the battalion's version of Mojave Viper, a month-long pre-deployment training evolution, and uses Marines and sailors who have recently returned from deployments to train their fellow Leathernecks for future missions.

"It's very similar to Mojave Viper, except we are not only the training audience, but the instructors as well," said Campbell, a native of Enid, Okla.

Summer Heat is one of two major combined arms exercises that 1st Tanks hosts during the year. The other is Steel Night and it takes place in winter.

"This is a major, significant combined arms exercise," said Capt. Mark A. Smith, the operations officer for 1st Tanks. "The benefit is that Marines are working together, building direct trust between units."

The battalion worked closely with Company E, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion; Battery L, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment; Company B, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion; and Combat Logistics Battalion 7 to provide all units a hands-on approach to combined arms training, said Smith.

Working with all of these units helps promote unit cohesion and efficiency during their missions when they are forward deployed, said Capt. Jayson Welihan, the air officer for 1st Tanks.

The battalion also worked with the United States Air Force and the Scan Eagle surveillance program to integrate new surveillance equipment between the services, said the Jackson, Mich., native. The cooperation with the Air Force and the Scan Eagle allows Marines to learn to communicate with the aircraft, ground elements and control the aircraft's fire, he said.

"The use of the Scan Eagle allows for Marines in far, remote places to get a top-down view of their location and any enemy involved," he added.

Summer Heat plays a crucial role in preparing Marines and sailors for deployments. Like Mojave Viper, it exists to prepare Marines for what they may face in theater, so they can continue to bring the fight to the enemy and return home safely once the mission has been accomplished, Campbell said.