Marines with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, conducted realistic training scenarios in preparation for their upcoming deployment at the Infantry Immersion Center at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune July 21.
The Infantry Immersion Center is a life-like training facility, complete with props and role players, hired to simulate a specific region. This particular scenario was based off an African village, where the unit may be sent during their next deployment.
For many of the Marines, this was their first experience interacting with notional host nation citizens in a real-world situation, as opposed to having fellow Marines role playing during training operations.
"Experience is one thing that you can’t really get in training a lot, as far as the full potential of it," said Sgt. Christopher Loychik, a squad leader with the unit. "Having real-world people communicating with you, actually being a part of the scenario, is something that Marines normally don’t get until they’re overseas."
The Marines went out on security patrols, as well as worked side-by-side with local police in humanitarian missions, something that many of the Marines in 3rd Bn., 6th Marines, experienced for the first time during this training.
"We have a bunch of new Marines," said 2nd Lt. Austin Cooper, a platoon commander with the unit. "This is our first time working together, especially for the new squads, in a dynamic environment like this."
The training is designed to simulate the specific tasks that Marines are expected to complete when they are on deployment.
"We train for things that we could very easily be tasked to do on a Marine Expeditionary Unit deployment," said Cooper. "Many times we will not be the ones providing the actual support for humanitarian missions, but we will need to provide security for the people who are."
What is unique about these exercises is that the scenarios are fluid and based off how Marines react to the situations.
The actions of role players are largely dependent on the decisions Marines make, each one creating a different response by the actors. During a typical training operation there is a set training agenda where everything is carefully planned out, Cooper added.
One of the key benefits to this training, as opposed to everyday exercises, was seeing how the Marines reacted to the human element of actually interacting with civilians.
"There is a lot of stuff that you don’t get to see on normal training operations, where you can’t see what their areas for improvement are," said Loychik. "This is definitely valuable training that all of the Marines benefit greatly from."