Diatribes of a Knucklehead 160112
So, why do most Commanding Officers (and their enlisted advisors) fail to ensure their Marines are trained as riflemen? Not infantrymen, but riflemen.
There is not enough time is a cop-out and a lie. I have proven that Marines of all MOSs and types of units can be trained as riflemen and beyond.
I wrote a story a while ago about the 29 August 2003 An Najaf Mosque bombing. One of my friends asked my why the young Marines performed so well. I gave him a long answer and then he asked me if I would draft up something like a lessons learned document for others to learn from. He was very impressed with the maturity of the very young Marines and that fact that they acted without direction many times.
THE EVOLUTION OF A RIFLEMAN
Part 1: India Company 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines (1984-1986)
I Co 3/3 is where I learned to be a rifleman and then I held jobs as an automatic rifleman, fire team leader, and squad leader. After my second deployment I volunteer for duty with the Battalion’s STA Platoon.
Part 2: STA 3/3 (1986-1989 and 1991-1994)
As a young Scout Sniper Corporal I learned early that it is good to have friends in H&S (Headquarters and Service) Company. My Platoon, the Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Platoon of 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines was very smart; in that we ensured we treated POGs well.
We took ConAd (the Bn Consolidated Admin) rappelling and SPIE rigging and we took our Motor Transport (Motor T) Marines out shooting – often. Through the years of taking care of those who took care of us I leaned to appreciate them and they learned to appreciate us. Grunt Battalions insist their H&S Company’s be able to perform as rifleman, but most other units do not. Who is at fault? I will tell you. It is the fault of the commanding officers (at every level) and their seniors enlisted advisors (at every level).
Note: STA platoon 3/3 always trained and treated their Corpsman not only like Marines, but also as Scout Snipers – they shot and patrolled just like everyone else.
Part 3: III MEF SOTG (1994-2001)
I was an Instructor at the III Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operation Training Group from Dec 1994 through January 2001. During that time I had many opportunities to train infantrymen and non-infantrymen in special tactics. I realized that Marines of all MOSs (Military Occupation Specialty) enjoy hard relevant combat training.
Near the end of each Urban Sniper Course we always a ran an afternoon “dog and pony shoot.” We would invite all the people who supported our courses, and us, recently. We would allow them to shoot M40A1 Scout Sniper Rifles and other various weapons. We would have Marine Officers, PFCs, Motor T, Supply, Corpsman, Dental Techs, etc. This made asking for help in future easier.
SOTG was very good about helping any unit that asked. As long as it did not impede our ability to run our operations we trained pretty much any unit that asked for assistance.
As I was leaving SOTG one of my good friends said to me: “Going to 1/7, there goes training everyone who asks for help.” I laughed and departed for 29 Palms California.
Part 4: Animal Company 1/7 (2001-2004)
When I checked into A Company (Animal Co) 1st Battalion 7th Marines in January of 2001 they were at winter mountain warfare training at Bridgeport California. While there I started preparing the Commanding Officer (CO) for my new ideas for training. On our first live fire back at 29 Palms we fired many thousands of rounds with no evaluation of hits and misses on target; what a waste. I told the CO if he gave me three Marines from each platoon for two weeks of training, on my schedule (different time each day due to my schedule) I would create a CADRE of instructors for the company.
I trained these Marines in M16 presentation drills, combat drills, and close quarters shooting. I also trained them in CQB (Close Quarters Battle) tactics; IBT (Initiative Based Tactics). We then trained the other 180 or so Marines and Corpsman with so many dry training drills they all wanted to kill me. I took possession of 50 LAV ammunition cans to hold targets we built with kill zones (three inch Circle and a T in the face and 8” pie on the chest – carved in with a nail, so the lines were not visible unless you were very close).
From that point on we never shot ammunition without scoring. After eight million “dry practice” drills we went to the range. The first time on the range these Marines were hammering targets, in the kill zones, like they were born trained – due to many hours of dry practice drills. We continued doing conventional tactics, but added CQB and shooting as often as possible. As far as I know, Animal Company was the only rifle company in the Marine Corps that were training in CQB and direct action tactics. We were taking down warehouses on main-side, attacking the barracks, eventually even training in an old housing area (the old Marine Palms housing area).
Note: I use the term “dry practice” because using “dry fire” can cause confusion (the word FIRE).
During 2002, while we were deployed to Okinawa Japan, Charlie Company (Suicide Charley) was tasked with a special mission (I cannot remember where or why) and the battalion operations officer tasked the Animal Company CADRE with training them in CQB and weapons presentation.
We did it, but I am puzzled to this day, why they would have us train another unit in skills we had been doing for almost a year. Later in the deployment we (Animal CADRE) also trained the Marines of Weapons Company in weapons presentation drills. We also showed some special lov’n to the Scout Sniper platoon; as always.
Warning the following narrative talks about actual combat; do not proceed if you cannot handle it.