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Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force

Integrated Task Force Engineer Platoon blows away assault breaching exercise

By | | December 3, 2014


Marines with Engineer Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, conducted an assault breaching exercise at Engineer Training Area 2 at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Dec. 3, 2014.

The platoon began their exercise by hiking more than 10 kilometers to the training area, carrying demolitions equipment such as M1A2 Bangalore torpedoes, the Anti-personnel Obstacle Breaching System and C4 satchel charges.

The next day, the platoon constructed obstacles at various distances using concertina wire. After preparing the demolition equipment, they were ready to go to work. Their objective: to assault and reduce obstacles by means of controlled detonation.

“(This) training was based on assault breaching, an engineer task that is very similar to what we will be doing out in Twentynine Palms,” said 1st Lt. Stephanie Damren, platoon commander, Engineer Platoon, H&S Company, GCEITF.

She referenced the coming Task Force deployment to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, where Marines will be assessed on their ability to perform tasks out of the individual Military Occupational Specialty Training and Readiness manuals.

“We wanted to focus on the basics of what assault breaching is, which consists of building charges, setting up security and proofing and marking the lane after we reduce the obstacle,” Damren said. “The Marines were intense. They got out there and applied what they knew and did great at it.”

The Marines worked in squads to determine what demolitions were appropriate and effective for their obstacles, utilizing M1A2 Bangalore torpedoes first before bringing out the expedient line charges of C4 and detonation cord. Marines maintained a security perimeter while teams of two set up the charges. After charges were confirmed by position safety officers, the Marines retreated to a safe distance before detonating the charges and with them, the obstacles.

GCEITF leaders, including Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, commanding officer, GCEITF, and Sgt. Maj. Robin C. Fortner, sergeant major, GCEITF, were present to observe the engineers’ training. The Marines also employed the Anti-personnel Obstacle Breaching System, which is an explosive line charge that utilizes a rocket and fragmentation grenades to clear obstacles. The platoon concluded their exercise once all obstacles were neutralized

“The Marines gained (proficiency) on how to successfully conduct an assault breach,” said Sgt. Eric T. Johansen, squad leader, Engineer Platoon, GCEITF. “They did extremely well from what I saw, and understand (assault breaching) a lot better than they would in a classroom setting.”  

From October 2014 to July 2015, the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force will conduct individual and collective skills training in designated combat arms occupational specialties in order to facilitate the standards based assessment of the physical performance of Marines in a simulated operating environment performing specific ground combat arms tasks.