ANDERSEN SOUTH AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (August 31, 2017) – Beads of sweat slide down Marines’ faces, causing them to wipe the black, brown and green camouflage paint, leaving their skin streaked and spotted. They stand in lines, forming squads with rifles slung around their bodies, awaiting a brief for their next training opportunity.
The squad leaders of India Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, call their squads to gather around for the next mission briefing.
India Company, the mechanized raid company of BLT 3/5, specializes in operating with Assault Amphibious Vehicles. During this field operation, they left their AAVs behind to hone their combat skills on foot in urbanized terrain.
After receiving the mission plan from their squad leader, the Marines fill their canteens with water one last time before stepping off on a patrol through an old, abandoned housing area at Andersen South Air Force Base, Guam.
Sgt. Tyler Michaud, a squad leader with India Company, reminds the Marines to sip water while holding security after clearing a once-habitable home, now filled with holes and surrounded by overgrown weeds.
Michaud orders the Marines to move on to the next house. Silently and diligently the Marines glide on the outside of the buildings, rifles up and ready, using vegetation for concealment.
A role player yells for help, causing the Marines to take cover. The unarmed role player reveals himself and is identified as a civilian. Michaud then converses with the role player, gathering valuable information on the locations of simulated improvised explosive devices and weapons caches in the area.
After a run-in with hostile role players leading to a simulated fire fight, complete with training hand grenades and the shooting of blank ammunition, the Marines deemed the mission a success.
The soaked Marines, panting, removed their gear and gathered around their squad leader for debrief. Before the brief could start, gray clouds replaced the scorching sun and a heavy rain began to fall.
Cpl. Floyd R. Tidwell, a team leader with India Company, said the weather was as much a factor as the hostile role players and simulated improvised explosive devices they encountered during their training.
“With any other squad the heat and humidity might’ve brought the morale down, but our squad leader and team leaders motivated the Marines and made sure our heads stayed fresh and in the game,” said Tidwell.
Michaud said he tried to make the training as realistic as possible, especially for the benefit of the newer Marines in the company.
“I’m happy that the newer Marines got to experience this, and hopefully they took away some lessons learned,” said Michaud. “I personally think we did pretty well overall. Not everything’s going to be perfect every time, but that’s why we’re out here training.”
BLT 3/5 is the Ground Combat Element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, currently conducting a regularly-scheduled patrol of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. India Company has taken every opportunity during its deployment to train in different environments, from the marshes of Queensland, Australia, to the heat and rain showers of Guam.