CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Feb 12, 2014 – The sky is dark, and the Marines have only headlamps and flashlights to see the small parts they must precisely place in the correct spot.
“Let’s go! Let’s get these weapons put back together,” encourages a Marine to his peers as they race to assemble a variety of weapons laid before them.
After a quick weapon functions check, the Marines are now tasked with quickly disassembling the weapons.
This was one of the events executed by the Marines of 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion as they competed in a squad competition hosted by the battalion Jan. 30 at Camp Hansen.
“We hosted this competition to test the Marines on their combat skills,” said 1st Lt. Ryan L. Trunk, the training officer for Headquarters and Support Company, 3rd LE Bn., III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “Specifically, we wanted to test their ability on programming radios, using crew-served weapons and check their overall combat fitness. We also want to instill a sense of competition between the companies.”
During the events, the Marines were split into squads between their companies and used grid coordinates to navigate to their various task stations.
Their challenges included an uphill tire flip, Humvee push, memory game, and completing a set of 200 pull-ups, 600 pushups, 600 squats and 600 crunches total as a squad.
In addition to the competitive nature of the events, the Marines learned more about the importance of unit cohesion.
“These types of events are important for team building,” said Staff Sgt. Oliver P. Bickel, a platoon sergeant with Company C, 3rd LE Bn. “A majority of these Marines weren’t actually from my platoon, but working with them over the past four to five hours has really shown me what they are capable of. They were amazing out there.”
The squads met at a final station where they competed in a ground-fighting match.
“I think the most important thing the Marines learned today was how far they can push (themselves),” said Bickel. “Our team started off with one of the longest (hikes) in the entire event. They pushed through the entire time. Toward the end of the day, I was definitely feeling it, but just seeing how well the Marines react and how motivated they are absolutely made me want to be better.”
At the conclusion of the competition, members of team one, Company A, finished in first place.
“You have to test your skills throughout the whole battalion,” said Trunk. “The Marines learned where the bar is set and if they have to make any improvements, or if they have been doing well compared to their peers. I enjoy watching the Marines get excited about the competition. This is going to become a regular event where we can present a plaque to the winning company each time.”
Even though only one team was victorious at the end of the day, it was the competitiveness and teamwork of the Marines that made the event successful.
“The Marines did amazing,” said Bickel. “They definitely did everything we asked of them and then some. I am absolutely amazed by the generation of Marines coming in now. It gets harder, the older we get, but seeing these young guys run around and (perform at such a high level), makes me absolutely proud to be here. I can’t do that without them.”