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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

1st Mar. Div. gearing up for different approach

By Lance Cpl. Macario Mora | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | January 22, 2004

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- Call it an Iraq prep-course.

Marines from 1st Marine Division began a series of pre-deployment training exercises for redeployment to Iraq here last week.

The exercises, hosted by 1st Marine Division Schools and the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory's Project Metropolis, was aimed at giving leathernecks a taste of what they'll be doing once they deploy.

"What we are doing ... is getting them thoroughly indoctrinated with what made them successful the first time so that they can go back and be successful," said Sgt. Maj. Daniel A Huff, battalion sergeant major for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Division will deploy later this spring to relieve the Army 82nd Airborne Division.

The mission will differ from that of the last time the division deployed.

Instead of deploying with warfighting in mind, 1st Marine Division will be tasked with Security and Stabilization Operations to allow Iraqis to take control of the country for themselves.

The training is the largest and final in a series of exercises to prepare for redeployment, Huff said. Training will continue for separate battalions through March.

Marines tested their skills in a series of scenarios, including convoy operations, reactions to improvised explosive devices, patrolling through urban areas and daily interaction with Iraqis.

"The Marines will be better prepared to handle themselves in an urban environment," said Maj. John A. Simeoni, officer-in-charge of Project Metropolis.

"They'll be better prepared to handle the situation in Iraq. The scenario is different this time around," he said.

With that in mind, Marines turned the air base into a training ground, complete with mock taxis and hundreds of role players, testing the Marines' ability to interact with locals and react to threats against U.S. forces.

Mosques, cafes, police stations and homes were constructed to provide a degree of believability to the situation, Huff added.

For the individual Marines, the mission was clear.

The division's mantra of "No better friend, no worse enemy," is a clear fit for what they expect to carry out in Iraq.

"No longer will Marines be used just for killing the enemy," explained Lance Cpl. Walter C. Searcy, infantryman.

"Now they'll be used for humanitarian efforts and to restore peace in a country plagued, for many decades, by violence and ruthless leadership," he said.

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