MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Lava Dogs of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, concluded the second phase of the Clear, Hold, Build Exercise here Monday after five days of combined arms urban operations.
Companies Alpha, Bravo and Charlie of 1/3, along with attachments from Weapons Company and other reinforcements, each cycled through Range 210 for two days as part of their Enhanced Mojave Viper predeployment training here. Having already completed the platoon-level CHB-1 exercise, CHB-2 tested each company as a whole.
Marines conducted a live fire assault toward the town using amphibious assault vehicles to transport Marines, M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks to push through and blast away enemy positions, and artillery and mortars to hit objectives from a distance.
Once the company’s assault element reached the city streets, three platoons of Marines poured from the AAVs to clear each building of enemy targets and force the enemy to fight or flee.
Next, the Marines dug in for the night for the “hold” portion of the exercise, creating a secure perimeter and maintaining control of the town’s buildings.
After sunset, “Coyote” exercise controllers from the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group announced an enemy counterattack to take back the town. Marines tore away at targets in the distance from their positions with machine gun, rocket and individual rifle fire.
As enemy vehicles were sighted ahead of them, the Lava Dogs pummeled them with 81-mm mortar fire and intense machine gun fire. Illumination flares lit the night sky with a dull yellow glow as they floated over the targets, giving Marines an advantage in the dark while red tracer rounds streaked from machine guns and sparks flew from the metal targets when hit.
As the fight progressed, close air support was called in and the roar of an FA-18 Hornet was heard overhead as it released a joint direct attack munitions bomb onto the enemy position, lighting up the desert with its fireball and shaking the concrete structures with the blast.
Minutes later, the “thwop-thwop” of an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter was heard closing in. It released multiple tubelaunched, optically-tracked, wire-guided missiles at the enemy, glowing-hot shrapnel exploded dozens of feet into the night like fireworks. On each pass, the Cobra delivered a punishing dose of gun fire on the vehicles, each round streaking through the sky from above with red tracers.
Once the fight was won, Marines settled in for the night, maintaining their posts and occupying the town. When dawn came, Pashtu-speaking role players approached the town to speak to the Marines.
This “build” portion of the exercise tested each company’s ability to interact successfully with the city’s key leadership and residents with respect to their language, cultural and civil needs.
Marines worked through their assigned linguists to help rebuild infrastructure of the town and to return control to its rightful inhabitants.
The Lava Dogs will soon begin the CHB-3 exercise and test their skills operating at the battalion level.