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Marines Report From The Field

Lima Warriors roll in to assault objective

Story by Sgt. Brian J. Griffin

Public Affairs Chief/Combat Correspondent - 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC)

CAMP AL XXXXXXX, JORDAN - The Marines sit silent, each of them anticipating in their own way the unknown battle situation they are about to encounter.

Packed like a tin of sardines, they don't move, afraid that if they do it might disrupt the tolerable balance of being squished against each other.

Sweat drips off their faces, the musky smell of sweat soaked uniforms and equipment fill the dark interior of the Amphibious Assault Vehicle they sit in the back of.

With a sudden jerk the AAV begins to move, picking up speed rapidly. Screaming across the Jordanian desert during squad and platoon attack training, the Marines sway, bouncing back and forth to the rocking of the vehicle.

The training, during Exercise Infinite Moonlight, was for the Marines of Company L, Battalion Landing Team 3/1, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), a chance to hone their skills in attacking a fortified position.

"It is exactly what we need, the Marines need to deal with the situation of not knowing what is in the trench over the next hill," said SSgt. David Wilson, platoon sergeant, 3rd platoon, Company L, BLT 3/1, 11th MEU (SOC).

These ranges provide the Marines something different than the training ranges at Camp Pendleton, Calif., which most Marines are familiar with.

Dealing with the unknown is what these warriors are taught to expect, some of them even appear to thrive on it.

"The training gives us the chance to come together as a platoon with all the different components," said LCpl. Brandon Hart, team leader, weapons platoon, BLT 3/1, 11th MEU (SOC). "It really brings everybody together and it will definitely help us later down the line if we have to do an actual assault."

The training isn't new to these Marines, they've done it time and time again, preparing for the day it's for real.

After what seems like eternity in the back of the tracked beast, the Marines are jolted forward by a sudden stop.

The back ramp begins to go down and immediately the bright desert sun blasts through, momentarily blinding everyone. The ramp is almost all the way down as their eyes begin to adjust to the drastic change in environment.

The warriors stand up, as best they can in the confined space, and begin to quickly file down the ramp and out onto the rock infested sand. Without delay they robotically form into their squads and set up a security perimeter.

Once everyone is out of the AAV the Marines step off at a quick, but cautious pace to their objective point several hundred yards away.

Heavy machine gun fire and muffled explosions are heard in the distance. These sounds of war are coming from Marines two hilltops away as they fire on the enemy position, suppressing any hazards that might await the forthcoming warriors.

Just before cresting the top of a hill the Marines stop. A team of two Marines are on the far right of the group, loading their Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon the gunner brings the weapon onto his shoulder as his assistant gunner makes sure the back-blast area is clear. He gives the all-clear signal and they fire the weapon.

A monstrous explosion of sand and rocks blankets the area when the rocket takes off towards its objective, sending a wave of dust over the Marines who fired the weapon.

Before the dust even has a moment to settle another boom is echoing through the area. Hitting its target, the rocket blast is a signal for the Marines to prepare to rush the fortification.

Enhancing their skills of listening and watching for clues about when to make their next move occurs during all portions of this training.

"Each Marine is thinking about what's going on around him because certain events trigger other event to happen," Wilson said. "He needs to know what cue triggers him to make his next move so the mission can be accomplished."

Receiving the signal to take the next step in their assault, the Marines press forward.

But one more obstacle stands in their way; razor sharp concertina wire surrounds their objective. Rushing forward a Marine places a stick of C-4, a plastic explosive, in between the wires, then runs back to a safe position with the rest of the group.

Taking cover by laying face down in the rocks and sand to protect themselves from the blast more than 25 feet away.

"Thirty seconds," someone yells from the group. Time ticks away on the fuse set on the explosives as "five seconds," is called out and everyone braces for the detonation.

Right on the mark an enormous roar rips through the desert range, intertwined with a cloud of sand and rock as the C-4 rips apart the concertina wire, allowing the Marines to rush through.

After breaking through the barrier they immediately start clearing a trench. Each Marine scans the trench with his weapon, firing round upon round into the enemy post. Ensuring there is no danger lurking in the corners of the trench, they jump in and use the protection of the walls for themselves.

Machine gun fire crackles throughout the area as the training pushes on.

"Grenade up," is yelled. A Marine scrambles to the top of the trench, slightly away from the rest of his squad. He pulls a grenade out of his war gear; gripping it tightly in his right hand he pulls the pin.

He lobs it far into another enemy position, after a few second delay the explosion is heard as a cloud of sand rolls over the trench.

They push forward, clearing more trenches and using more rockets and explosives to clear themselves a path through the fortification, all of this happening in a matter of minutes.

Breaking completely through the encampment they still press forward setting up another security perimeter as they call on the radio for their ride to pick them up.

Rolling over hills in the distance, the AAVs can be seen quickly coming to pick up the warriors.

With a quick stop the ramps to the AAVs are lowered and the Marines begin to file into the vehicles squad by squad, still scanning the surrounding area for possible hazards.

Everyone is loaded, packed again like sardines, as the ramp closes and its darkness overtakes the passenger area of the vehicle.

With a jolt they are moving, speeding across the desert back to their base camp, their mission is successfully over. The Marines have completed another step in preparing themselves for the mission of tomorrow, whatever or wherever that may be.