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Army June 6, 2013
US Marine Sgt Sarah Fiocco
THE latest rotation of US Marines
posted to Darwin wasted no time
getting into the field, deploying to
Kangaroo Flats Training Area to
practise attacking a dug-in enemy
force on May 22.
The training for the troops of 3 Pl,
Lima Coy, 3 Bn, 3rd Marine Regt
was about learning to plan and adapt
"on the fly", according to platoon
commander 1st Lt Wesley Nix.
"They got a fragmentation order
last night," he said. "Their mission
was to go through and kick [the
enemy] out of the trenches with snip-
er support and machinegun support."
With so many different elements
involved in a squad attack, well coor-
dinated planning becomes paramount.
"This training really stresses team-
work. It helps those NCOs develop
their squads, camaraderie and esprit
de corps," Lt Nix said. "It replicates
real-life combat scenarios. Sometimes
we'll end up doing something without
a lot of time to prepare and then have
to go straight into an attack."
A few short hours of planning to
remove the enemy from the trenches
meant every Marine felt the pressure
of knowing his role.
"It's small-unit leadership," squad
leader Cpl Patrick Paul said. "You
basically have to [plan] everything, so
everyone down to the basic rifleman
can understand what's going on
and what they have to do to get the
Although the Marines entered
hostile ground with a plan of action,
they quickly learnt that combat would
rarely go as planned -- even simulated
"All of the sudden, [the supervi-
sors] could say, 'hey, that guy is
down'. Then there's a casualty, and
you have to prepare a casualty evacu-
ation team," Cpl Paul said. "When
you get out there anything can happen.
You've got to be prepared to adapt."
Darwin-based US Marines go bush for platoon-attack training
Lit up: US Marine machinegunner Pte Sebastian Rodriguez suppresses enemy positions during a night
attack at Kangaroo Flats Training Area.
Photo by Sgt Sarah Fiocco
THE intense Northern Territory heat
and an arduous 7.2km run in full
combat gear were only some of the
obstacles US Marines with Lima
Coy, 3 Bn, 3 Marine Regt, Marine
Rotational Force -- Darwin, faced as
they completed a squad competition,
wrapping up their four days in the
field at Kangaroo Flats Training Area
on May 23.
Throughout their run, Marines
also stopped at four different loca-
tions to complete a call for fire on a
radio, a maximum set of burpees in
six minutes, a casualty evacuation and
a range shoot.
OC US Marine Capt Raymond
L'Heureux said the activity was about
using the harsh NT conditions as a
"This last day is a gut-check
physical challenge for all the marines
to do before we get out of here," he
said. "We like to push Marines to their
physical limits to make sure they're
still able to operate in very adverse
The job of a marine can weigh
heavily on the body, so it is extremely
important to stay physically fit,
according to Capt L'Heureux.
"You never know where you're
going to be. As the Marine Corps
says, 'we fight in any clime and
place'," he said. "So many of the
Marines here have been deployed to
the deserts of Afghanistan where it's
dry and hot. We're from Hawaii where
it's humid and hot, and now we're in
Darwin where it's more humid and
The event also gave the Marines
the opportunity to build their camara-
derie on a small-unit level.
"They completed the exercise in
squad-sized elements, so they were
able to operate as a team, push each
other, motivate each other and lean on
each other," Capt L'Heureux said.
Squad leader Sgt Ian Polhamus
said teamwork was needed to com-
plete the challenge, especially during
"The hardest part was the run,"
he said. "The marines know their
stuff. They know how to call in their
landing zones, and they know how
to shoot their weapons. Running in
this humidity is something we're not
Heat ups intensity
for tough activity
Run off: US Marines on rotation in NT run between activities at the
Kangaroo Flats Training Area.
Photo by Sgt Sarah Fiocco
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