“Move forward!” yells the Marine leading from the front.
They take off running, leaving a cloud of hot dust in their wake as they cut across the rocky terrain to split off into fire teams, and make their way up to the enemy’s position.
As the dust dissipates, the Marines maintain a brisk pace through hot rocky desert terrain pushing forward toward the controlled chaos of artillery and machine gun fire.
Reserve Marines with 1/24, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, began Integrated Training Exercise 4-16 at range 410A aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, on June 14, 2016. The training will last over a period of two weeks spread out among multiple ranges. ITX will concentrate on training two infantry battalions including 1/24, and 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, in addition to training supporting units across Marine Forces Reserve.
“We are doing everything from infantry down to squad level and building up to a level company assault”, said Sgt. Maj Glen Bragg, regimental sergeant major, of 25th Marine Regiment. “We are also working on the supporting elements including convoy operations and supply elements.”
ITX allows Reserve Marines the opportunity to train in realistic conditions comprised of live fire ranges, which will increase their proficiency as a Marine Air Ground Task Force and prepare them for worldwide deployment.
“It’s excellent training everything is live, we can take full advantage of everything we can do to make ourselves better”, said Cpl. Michael Larabee, team leader, 1/24. “Being here in Twentynine Palms, going through ITX, determines who the next company or battalion is to deploy anywhere, combat or anywhere needed.”
To make sure the Marines are ready for deployment, ITX is held in the hot desert environment of Twentynine Palms. The demanding environment presents a challenge to all Marines, as the dry heat can reach 100 degrees or more daily. Working through these hot temperatures and in the mountainous desert terrain guarantees, they can work through challenging training scenarios while being put under physical and mental stress.
“It is important because you can get deployed to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, South America, and it can be as hot as this,” said Larabee. “You need to be prepared to train in any climate.”
1/24 worked successfully through the desert elements of range 410A completing their first range, and officially kicking off ITX 4-16. They are joined by Reserve Marines from across the United States to train and perfect all of the requirements necessary to deploy and augment the active force.