MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- More than 20 Marines from MEU Service Support Group-26 conducted simulated convoy missions in conjunction with Stability and Support Operations (SASO) training at the II Marine Expeditionary Force Simulation Center, here, Nov. 1-5.
The purpose of the training was to prepare the MSSG Marines for potential missions abroad where tactical convoys are often targets of enemy insurgents. The course was conducted via computer using the "Sim Center’s" convoy simulation program.
One of the goals was to allow several of the unit's staff non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers to serve as the mission commander for a convoy, explained Capt. Danny Ledford, the motor transport detachment commander for MSSG-26.
Some of the scenarios the mission commanders had to plan for included broken vehicles, ambushes, caring for casualties, negotiating roadblocks and avoiding improvised explosive devices.
After receiving a mission and devising a plan, the mission commander briefed his Marines and tasked them to execute the convoy.
II MEF Marines played the role of enemy insurgents attempting to disrupt the movements. Like a head-to-head video game, they set up roadblocks and executed ambushes along the route to test how the Marines would overcome these obstacles and complete the convoy.
During one of the scenarios, Staff Sgt. James Soules, mission commander, briefed that no matter what happened, he wanted his drivers to push through or go around all obstacles. He also briefed an alternate plan to include security procedures in case the convoy had to stop for a situation such as a broken-down vehicle.
Soules' team was able to successfully accomplish the mission for that scenario, but not every mission went as planned. Some of the early problems that were encountered included insufficient communications between vehicles and poor awareness of Marines operating outside their vehicles.
However, taking advantage of the training environment, the MSSG-26 Marines were able to learn from their mistakes and adjust their tactics accordingly.
“If we don’t do it here, we won’t do it out there,” said Ledford, in regards to training versus deployment. “We have to act as though this is the real thing.”
With this training complete, the MSSG is better prepared to conduct SASO missions during the MEU's scheduled deployment in Spring 2005.
To follow MSSG-26 and the rest of the 26th MEU during the rest of the pre-deployment training, visit www.26meu.usmc.mil.