CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 18, 2009) --
One hundred and ninety-eight Marines and sailors from Company E (E Co.), Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines (BLT 2/5), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted one of their first tasks as the MEU’s Ground Combat Element (GCE) at Combat Town, Sept. 11.
The company’s mission was to recapture and secure the town after mock enemy insurgents had taken control.
The mission began in the early morning hours as the Marines and sailors patrolled through the jungle terrain of the Central Training Area (CTA) in route to combat town searching for the enemy, mock improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other obstacles.
When E Co. reached the town, the three platoons split up. One remained in a blocking position, while the other two came face to face with their adversaries. The Marines pushed through the buildings viciously, taking over the town one building at a time.
During the assault the town’s church doubled as the company headquarters and holding area for detainees.
According to Gunnery Sgt. Steven Moser, E Co. gunnery sergeant, “Practicing fundamental sills training is exactly what infantry units need in order to be prepared for combat.”
The Kingsport, Tenn. native added, "This is what it's all about. From here, we can analyze what skills we need to refine, but also reflect on what we did right. So we are prepared when we are called upon by our country."
“Tracks Company”, as they are often referred to because of the central role Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) play in their missions, learned that no matter how big or small, overcoming obstacles and continuing to push forward is the key to success.
“As we made our way to combat town, we had to cross waist-deep water,” said Lance Cpl. Jacob Jenkins, an infantryman with E Co. “When Marines have a mission, we have to do whatever it takes to accomplish it and can’t let anything get in our way.”
In the end, the training proved to be beneficial to the Marines and sailors by giving them a glimpse of what to expect should they find themselves in an urban combat situation.
"For a lot of our guys this was their first experience with urban training. Operating in an urban environment isn't easy. I think our guys learned a lot from this evolution and will do even better the next time a mission like this comes up,” Moser said.
The assault on Combat Town was conducted in support of MEU Exercise 2009 (MEUEX ’09), one of several simultaneous exercises being conducted in preparation for the MEU’s Fall Patrol to the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.