Assaulting Through III MEF's SOTG teaches spot-on shot technique, house raiding skills

25 Jul 2008 | Lance Cpl. Joseph A. Cabrera

Shell casings piled on the ground and the smell of burnt gunpowder filled the air as students practiced precision shooting July 9 during the Dynamic Assault Course here.

The course, which ran June 18 through Wednesday, focused on close quarters battle techniques crucial in accomplishing missions in urban environments.

Speed, surprise and violence of action - movements of sudden, intentional force - are fundamentals of close quarter battle, said Staff Sgt. Jonathan D. White, Dynamic Assault Course instructor assigned to III Marine Expeditionary Force Special Operations Training Group.

During the training, the students focused on gaining entry into a building or room, clearing the structure and safe egress techniques, White said.

Precision shooting was an integral part of the course at all levels, said Capt. Matthew Pierson, the platoon commander of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's Deep Reconnaissance Platoon.

"It certifies them to have the skills and qualifications necessary to go into a house and conduct complicated raids effectively utilizing precision and surgical shooting techniques," he said.

During the course, students fired an average of 500 to 1000 rounds of ammunition daily, using M-4 assault rifles and MEU(SOC) .45-caliber pistols - upgraded M1911 .45-caliber pistols designed for use with MEUs - said Sgt. Edrick Villarreal, a communications chief with the 31st MEU's Deep Reconnaissance Platoon.

Shooting drills were conducted at all hours, day and night. During night drills, students used weapon-mounted or hand-held flashlights to illuminate targets.

The drills were intense and fast-paced, and some required students to alternate between weapons, Pierson said.

"The challenge is the rapid pace of the training, because you have to keep up with the schedule," Villarreal said.

Adding to the realism of the training was the fact the students had to always know exactly where their rounds were impacting.

"They are taught target discrimination - to identify the target and know whether it's a threat to them," White said.

The students enjoyed the course and appreciated the opportunity to broaden and refine their skills.

"For anyone who is in the Marines, especially recon Marines, this is what they want to do," Pierson said. "They would rather be doing this than anything in the world."

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31st Marine Expeditionary Unit