DECEMBER 13, 2016, NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY NORTHWEST ANNEX, Chesapeake, Va. – Marines from Company C, Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, and the Marine Corps Museum spent approximately two weeks honing skills centered around close-quarters tactics and advanced marksmanship tactics and techniques during the Advanced Interior Tactics training course from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9, aboard Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex, Chesapeake, Va.
AIT is a two-week course recently introduced to cover main points taught during the seven-week Close Quarters Battle course. This training event begins with rifle and pistol training unique to the course, and concludes with Marines applying newly acquired skills in a “shoot house” with simulated paint rounds while being monitored by instructors to ensure proper execution of tactics and safety.
“[AIT] provides Marines with the ability to run through houses and gain knowledge on interior tactics for clearing,” said Sgt. Sean Litchfield, Close Quarters Battle instructor, Training Co., Marine Corps Security Force Regiment.
During marksmanship training, students spent a week performing close-range shooting drills on targets ranging between three and 50 yards away, using an M16 service rifle or M4 carbine and M9 Beretta pistol. The weapons training itself is only a portion of what students are taught on the range.
“Aside from marksmanship, a couple of other fundamentals we focus on are mindset, stance and gear placement,” said Gunnery Sgt. Joshua McLeod, Close Quarters Battle staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Training Company, MCSFR. “Everything begins with mindset, so we have to ensure that the shooters’ minds are focused on the mission. A lot of their mission success will begin with the foundations of marksmanship that we begin to build in that first week.
Everything from proper stance, fluidity of movements, emphasis their awareness of themselves and the Marines around them while on the flat ranges to more complex tasks such as moving while engaging multiple targets will play a huge role in their mission achievement while deployed.”
The second week is focused on interior tactics and room clearing in simulated house scenarios.
“AIT is getting us away from [Military Operations and Urban Terrain training] and into close-quarters battle. MOUT is more of an infantry thing where we rush in to take down our objective quickly. AIT gets us more into a safer aspect of things such as positive identification of the hands and occupant control,” said Lance Cpl. Cameron Garrett, AIT student, Company C., FAST, MCSFR.
Marine Corps infantrymen apply MOUT training techniques in combat environments like Helmand province, Afghanistan, or Anbar province, Iraq. In most cases, walking through the door of a home in Fallujah or Ramadi resulted in a shoot-out with enemy combatants. While MOUT focuses on teaching Marines how to proceed in environments such as this, AIT training is applicable to office buildings, embassies residents and public establishments where occupants may or may not pose a threat.
One of the major takeaways from the course is to express the importance of understanding that not all objectives pose threats, and to teach the Marines how to skillfully react and control the situation, Garrett added.
“It really opens our eyes that not everyone in a room is a threat and it teaches us to be especially watchful of an objective’s hands,” said Garrett. “Occupant control is when you encounter someone that doesn’t pose a threat, but you have to maintain control of them, protect them, as well as protecting yourself from them, and that is exactly what AIT embeds in us.”
By Sgt. Kayla D. Rivera, Marine Corps Security Force Regiment