Tuesday, February 8, 2011
MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER BRIDGEPORT, Calif. - Since 1951, Marines throughout the Corps have tested their endurance and learned how to brave harsh climates at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Brideport, Calif.
Marines and sailors 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division began the first phase of Exercise Mountain Warrior 06-10, as the latest unit to train here. The Marines started the week learning basic mountain survival skills to include how to tie knots, traverse terrain and survival diet.
“We’ve already learned how to pack our packs for hiking properly, some of the knots and other survival tactics,” said Pfc. Bryan K. Greer, a mortarman with Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel Platoon, Weapons Company. “It’s a lot to take in, but thank God for practical application. All the training we do will add up as the weeks go by.”
After spending the first couple days learning through classroom instruction, the Marines traveled to Sardine Rock and the Leavitt Training Area to apply their training.
Each Marine brought with them carabineers and six-foot length rope to create the multiple knots that aided them in training. The Marines created an around-the-bowline knot to safely fasten themselves to a rope acting as a fixed lane for them to pull themselves up steep slopes.
“I love doing the knot tying, that stuff is real cool,” said Cpl. Brad P. Warren, the training non-commissioned officer with Weapons Platoon, Company C. “I’ve never done things like this with rope before. With knots you got to learn how to master it, you can’t just half learn it. You have to learn it, to know it, your life is going to depend on it when you are hanging off a cliff face.”
The Marines also successfully created a swiss-seat-harnesses out of rope and rappelled dozens of feet off Sardine Rock’s cliff face.
Instructors from Unit Training Group, MCMWTC, supervised the training to help ensure safety and coach Marines through the process of knot tying, fixed lane ascent, descent and rappelling.
“In order to get over steep terrain they need to be able to move on fixed lanes,” said
Staff Sgt. Ernesto Hernandez, an instructor with MCMWTC. “Rappelling is a just an easier and faster way of getting down from a mountain, faster than maybe walking around to find a less steep route. This training is also another way for Marines to build confidence, there’s Marines out here who are afraid of heights, this helps them get over that fear.
While Marines learned how to rappel and traverse steep terrain at Sardine Rock, guidance from instructors at Leavitt Training Area helped the Marines learn to cross gorges and streams, while working together. The Marines also learned what plants are edible, such as wild onions, dandelions and cattails.
“I want our Marines to understand they can do their normal job, whether it’s conventional find the bad guy counterinsurgency type role, meeting with the civilian population and local leadership or any combination of that,” said Capt. William Simpson, company commander of Charlie Company. “I want them to realize they can do that in any environment. If they can do it in the harsh environment of the mountains of Bridgeport, they can do it in Afghanistan or any other place we get sent.”
The Marines will spend the next few days combining their newfound survival skills into patrolling and setting up defensive positions during the exercise. This exercise will help temper the Marines and prepare them mentally and physically for operations across the spectrum of conflict anywhere they deploy with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
This story is part one of a series highlighting 1/1’s training in Bridgeport.