August 13, 2015 – FORT A.P. HILL, Virginia — “Open door right!” the point man screams to his fellow Marines lined up behind him. “Go, Go, Go!” He cries and bursts into the room ready to face whatever dangers wait for them there. An enemy lurking unseen in the corner surges forward and unleashes the contents of his weapon on the advancing squad. The Marines waste no time returning fire, and the enemy is quickly overpowered. “Clear!” comes the victorious shout, and the team regroups to continue down the hall and around the next shadowy corner.
Support Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, conducted Basic Urban Skills Training in order to learn the foundations of building clearing at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Aug. 6, 2015. The company, taught by instructors from the 2nd Marine Division Training Center, practiced entering a building and eradicating all enemy presence within. They fired 9 mm simulation rounds which, similar to paintballs, left pink splotches on the Marines’ uniform where they impacted.
“I think the realism is on par,” said 2nd Lt. Kurt Hinck, the Heavy Equipment Platoon commander. “It’s one thing to go through with blanks, but it adds a whole new layer of complexity and realism when you add the simulated rounds to it because then it’s not just ‘bang bang,’ it’s actually rounds hitting targets and rounds coming at you. They have to push through any type of hesitancy that they might have.”
Hinck explained that it was some of the Marines’ first time going through this type of training and that they were picking up the necessary skills quickly. This training is unique to the type of work Support Co. does on a daily basis.
“This isn’t what these Marines do every day,” said Hink “They are mechanics or operators so we are getting them in at the entry level, and they have progressed quickly. To be able to go from almost no experience to operating at the squad level is leaps and bounds. There is a lot of room for them to grow going forward, but they have made a lot of strides here today.”
This training is so important, explained Hinck, because the majority of the world’s population lives in an urban environment. It is necessary for all Marines to know how to safely and efficiently secure a room or building.
“Regardless of what your military occupational specialty is, you could find yourself in this position,” said Hinck. “A lot of Marines think that ‘I’m just a mechanic or I’m just a truck driver, I don’t need to know this,’ but we want to impress upon them that you never know what is going to happen, we don’t know where we are going next, and we don’t know who the enemy is going to be. We need to plan and train for any situation.”
Pfc. Christian Johnson, a utilities operator with the company, explained that some of the biggest concepts he learned during the training were rifle muzzle awareness, teamwork and communication.
“Communication is huge; we are learning that here today,” said Johnson. “We are not infantry Marines, but as we progress, our skills are getting a lot better.”
This training is taking place as part of the battalion’s deployment for training exercise where the Marines are in a unique training environment brushing up on the infantry skills they might not routinely use.
“The mission of the DFT is to come out here and train like the infantry platoons, and the focus of the DFT has been those provisional infantry skills,” said Hinck. “This is one of those foundational level infantry skills that these Marines need to learn. Just as every Marine is a rifleman, this is like the next layer to that piece.”