Eyes dart back and forth, scanning the horizon as armored vehicles sweep through clouds of dust and sand. A loud popping sound echoes through the air.
Marines inside of Humvees radio instructions to each other before springing into action; bullets flying from turrets atop Humvees, Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements and AMK36 Wreckers as the vehicles rush to eliminate the enemy in order for the Marines to achieve their mission.
Marines with Transportation Services Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, completed live-fire recovery missions as part of the Integrated Training Exercise 1-19 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, November 15, 2018.
ITX 1-19 was a large-scale Marine Air-Ground Task Force integration exercise in which CLB-4 Marines and Sailors trained to respond quickly to any contingency by fully integrating with ground and air combat elements of the MAGTF.
The unit trained to recover damaged vehicles and personnel while combating a simulated enemy. Marines fired at targets of various distances using M16A4 rifles and M4 carbines with M240B machine guns, Mark 19 mm grenade machine gun and Browning .50-caliber machine guns mounted on top of vehicles.
“This training gives us the ability to see how we will act in an actual combat situation,” said Cpl. Tristen Barry, a mechanic with 1st Platoon, TS Co., CLB-4. “Instead of just learning about what we would do in combat, we get the opportunity here to operate as if we are already in it.”
Barry said that the training was important because it gave the Marines an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them, rather than trying to learn while deployed in combat situations.
Along with identifying and dealing with a simulated enemy, the Marines also had to properly care for casualties during the training.
Lance Cpl. Alyssa Plunk, an operator also with TS Co., said she learned a lot about casualty care during the missions.
"Eliminating enemy threats is important, but so is taking care of Marines and keeping everyone alive," Plunk said. "I was forced to pay attention to the little things when it came to lifesaving techniques in order to help keep Marines in the fight."
If Marines failed to maintain cover from fire, put themselves in vulnerable positions or had their vehicles affected by enemy artillery or an improvised explosive device, they could be deemed a casualty by the evaluators who were present during every portion of the training. Marines had to safely evacuate casualties by way of a C-130J Hercules, CH-53E Super Stallions or other aircraft.
"The Marines learned a lot," said Lt. Col. Dana Demer, the commanding officer of CLB-4, 3rd MLG. "This training is something that we are not able to do all the time, so coming to ITX is definitely a great opportunity for us. Things like live-fire recovery missions allow us to understand exactly how we as a unit will function in combat."
Demer said that he is proud of the effort the Marines put into the missions, and that they are going to work hard to strengthen weak areas and improve on strengths in order to be ready for anything at anytime.