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U.S. Marines touch down and set up security during Exercise Bougainville I at Kahuku Training Area, Hawaii, March 12, 2018. Bougainville I is used to train Marines to fight at the small-unit level and build their proficiency for future deployments. The Marines are with Company B, 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Trevor Rowett)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Trevor Rowett

Patrolling Exercise conducted by 1/3 Marines for Exercise Bougainville I

14 Mar 2018 | 2nd Lt. Colin Kennard 3rd Marine Division

U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment, began a week-long patrolling exercise at Kahuku Training Area, near the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, March 12, 2018. This training evolution is part of Exercise Bougainville I, which is designed to assess training and readiness standards for fire team through platoon level tasks.

Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 3d Marines was transported by CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from a landing zone on Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the east side of the island to the training area for an extra element of realism in the training.

Platoons, working both independently and together as a company, will focus on conducting patrol base operations, ambush, contact, and reconnaissance patrolling – essential skills in combating a near-peer threat in a jungle environment.

Within 3d Marines, Bougainville I is an integral part of each of the battalion's annual training plan. Battalions work through successive iterations of Bougainville exercises in preparation for their unit deployment to Okinawa, Japan.

“Bougainville I will set conditions for future training,” said Capt. Dylan Buck, Company B commanding officer.

This week’s patrolling exercise allows Marines in Company B to refine their ability to execute ambushes, establish a defense, and fight within an engagement area, at the squad level.

“When we go do the live fire event, [the Marines] will have already experienced fighting as a squad sized element” said Buck, a Gainesville, Texas native and Naval Academy graduate.

2nd Lt. Michael Goff, a platoon commander with Bravo Company, discussed the importance of training in a jungle environment, the most common type of terrain in the Indo-Pacific region.

“At [Kahuku Training Area] we get a lot of exposure to that,” said Goff a Dallas native and Texas A&M University graduate. “The majority of the things you’re going to be doing are operating out of patrol bases… and the first large field exercise we have has that focus.”

Bougainville I is a chance for Goff to better understand how each of his subordinate squad leaders think and how to employ them effectively within a myriad of tactical scenarios.

“If I need to send out a patrol that needs to be a little more aggressive, I’ll know which squad leader,” Goff said.

Lance Cpl. Luis Arana, a new squad leader, was eager to take his squad out on a patrol.

“I want to get to know my guys and I want to see where they are at,” said Arana, a native of Ukiah, Oregon.

He wanted to take full advantage of the training and “get in as many reps” in order to improve the efficiency of his squad. “We have been trying to work as hard as we can up to this point. I’m hoping to see what [the Marines] have caught on and what they haven’t, so we know what to work on.”

A junior Marine who joined the company in February of 2018, Pfc. Raymier Williams, understood his squad leader’s emphasis on getting in repetitions.

“I feel like we will get better the more we do it,” said Williams, an automatic rifleman. “The first time will be rough, the second a little less rough, and the third time we will have it down.” Williams, from Snellville, Georgia, who was “a little nervous” on his first helicopter insertion, expects to learn a lot during his first field exercise post his initial training.


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