MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- Combat Service Support Detachment 23 deployed to Fort Stewart, Ga. December 4 for a five-day field training exercise.
The exercise helped reinforce the detachment's combat skills, allowing them to perform routine equipment maintenance and operate under field working conditions.
Marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 and Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron assisted the detachment as they help set up camp at the Canoochee Drop Zone, one of the Army's training fields.
"The most important part of the exercise," said 1st Lt. William H. Nash, CSSD-23 executive officer, "was actually setting up the entire detachment in the field and keeping it functioning."
Marines strung spirals of razor sharp concertina wire around base camp and camouflaged the tents with radar scattering nets. Soon after, the vehicle maintenance crew began the laboring process of replacing two High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) motors, which were given to the detachment for repair by the Army's 24th Corps Support Group.
On the freezing cold morning of day two, the Marines thawed their feet out on the march to the four-square-mile land navigation course.
"This 'land-nav' course is essential for our training," said Sgt. John Stephens, who coordinated the navigation exercise. "It builds confidence for each Marine who may need to find their way back to camp when lost. We train them to navigate by using terrain association and by shooting back azimuths with their compasses. More importantly, learning to navigate through unfamiliar wooded territory can be a big help in case a Marine needs a medical evacuation - In such a case, our Marines can give and read coordinates."
By mid-week, CSSD-23 Marines loaded their rifles with blank rounds and dug into the soil around the perimeter. They were preparing for the force-on-force reaction area security exercise, where the Marines defended their perimeter, while Soldiers of Company 'D' and the 703rd Main Support Battalion acted as enemy aggressors and attempted to raid the camp.
As part of the exercise, Marines conducted tactical patrols of the surrounding area. During the patrols, the Marines wore flack jackets, helmets and camouflaged paint as they carried their M16A2 service rifles and Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) M249 Light Automatic Machine Guns.
Toward the end of the exercise, the Marines trekked 10-miles to the firing range, where they conducted a live fire exercise. This target training was a culmination of all the week's events, where the Marines got a chance to send their rounds down range and practice their marksmanship.
"Marines and Sailors from every section have risen to the challenge and executed their duties under very difficult conditions," said Maj. J. L. Hatton, CSSD-23 commanding officer. "The cooperation we have received from our counterparts in the Army has also been outstanding."