Recon Marines Sharpen Skills

Marine Corps Cpl. James Lafrance, with Force Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, shoots targets with a shotgun during a physical training exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Nov. 7, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Marines with Force Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted a proficiency exercise here Nov. 7.

The physical training exercise incorporated many different training events including an eight-mile hike with over 50 pounds in the Marines’ packs, an M67 Fragmentation Grenade range, and a pistol and shotgun range.

The exercise would have pushed most Marines to their limits, but for the Marines with Force Company, it’s just another average day of physical training, said Master Sgt. Vincent Marzi, the Force Company operations chief.

Maintaining Proficiency

“Because we are Recon Marines, we are expected to be very proficient in all that we do,” Marzi said. “We conduct PT sessions like this on a regular basis to keep our Marines prepared physically, mentally and tactically for any situation they could find themselves in over the years to come.”

The exercise also enabled the Marines to test and improve their memory as well as their physical prowess.

Marine Corps Cpl. Trevor Pace, a team leader for the event with Force Company, said the first station of the proficiency training enabled the Marines to exercise their mental fortitude in a stressful environment.

“The gas chamber was our first stop during the PT event this morning,” Pace said. “While we were inside and the gas was filling the room, we had to effectively program radios and memorize different target colors and shapes that we would need later on in the event.”

The Marines hiked from the gas chamber to the top of the infamous 700-foot hill known as the Reaper, where they conducted the M32 Multiple Grenade Launcher course of fire. Each team member fired five shots at various targets before gathering their packs and hiking to the next event.

Safety a Top Concern

While the Force Company Marines conduct similar training events regularly, the Marines’ safety is always a huge concern during any type of exercise, Marzi said.

“Every time we have any kind of training event, we do the most we can to ensure that everyone involved is being safe,” he said. “We want to be positive that all of the proper procedures are being followed so no one ends up getting hurt or worse.”

When the Marines reached the next event, the memorization portion of the gas chamber came into play. While shooting .45-caliber pistols and shotguns, the Marines had to properly identify different shapes and targets before shooting them. This drill allows the Marines to practice target identification, which is an important part of fighting in a deployed environment.

“In country, you have to identify your targets,” Pace said. “If you can’t properly identify your enemy from an innocent person, you could kill an innocent person or put your whole team in danger.”

As the first group of Marines crossed the finish line, they weighed their packs ensuring they were still more than 50 pounds and sat down to rest for the first time since the event started.

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