MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – As the rising sun warmed the air, Marines placed demolition charges on entryways of an urban combat training environment. “Get back, get back,” said Cpl. Brett Sorteberg, an infantryman with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn., 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Five, four, three, two, one…BOOM! A charge blows open a door, the pressure of the explosion is felt by all Marines several feet away. The pressure of the explosion gave Marines an adrenaline boost as they rushed in to clear the building.
Marines with 1st Marine Division practiced demolition and breach tactics, techniques and procedures taught by 1st Combat Engineer Battalion during an urban leaders course at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Jan. 29, 2016.
“The purpose of this training is to give the Marines another skill they can use in the field,” said Cpl. Tyler Myers, a combat engineer with 1st CEB, 1st MarDiv, I MEF and instructor of the course. “They need to have this skill just in case they don’t have any engineers with them in a deployed environment.”
Myers, a native of Chesterfield, Michigan, and the other instructors of the course, make sure the Marines can safely and properly build and place charges through practical application and repetition prior to using them.
“There’s always a chance that something could go wrong,” said Myers. “That’s why we want to make sure they can do this. It gives us the opportunity to evaluate them while reducing risk at the same time.”
The urban leaders course breaching tactics gave students the chance to learn a new skill of another military occupational specialty, which is important because it enables the Marines as force multipliers – allowing them to assist others that have this skill.
“I was very grateful to learn a skill that combat engineers use,” said Lance Cpl. Bryan Aldendifer, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st MarDiv, I MEF. “Due to the amount of practice and how many charges we used, I definitely feel confident that I can do this with or without the assistance of an engineer.”
Aldendifer, a native of Boynton, Nebraska, described the pressure felt from the explosion as someone pressing down on your chest.
Other students of the course had a different reaction to charges exploding.
“Once the blast went off, the only thing that went through my mind was ‘let’s get in there and clear this building,’” said Aldendifer.
By being shown how to build charges, place them for maximum effectiveness, and the proper procedures for room clearing, the Marines were taught a valuable skill they did not previously have.
“It’s important for Marines to learn the skills of others,” said Sorteberg, a native of Minnetonka, Minnesota. “Being cross trained to use the skills of an MOS that you might work with on a deployment helps because then you can offer assistance or perform the job yourself.
With the new skills they now have at their disposal, the infantrymen of 1st Marine Division are more prepared for breaching safely and effectively.