Photo Information

Cpl. Josue Velney (front) and Lance Cpl. Patrick Rivera, both of Combat Logistics Battalion 26, provide security during the final exercise of the Combat Hunter course. Marines from CLB-26 were the first support Marines to take the Combat Hunter course here, which taught them to analyze highly complex environments and act decisively. As the Combat Logistics Element for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, CLB-26 will deploy with the MEU this fall in support of the Global War on Terror.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Bryce Piper

Every Marine a Hunter: Support Marines take Combat Hunter Course

27 Apr 2008 | Staff Sgt. Bryce Piper 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

"What really appealed to me was the observation tactics," said Lt. Col. John Giltz, "Patience is a big thing. This training teaches Marines to make the right decision at the right time."

Giltz is the commanding officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 26, the Combat Logistics Element of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He made his comments while observing his Marines – the first support Marines here to take this class outside of recruit and Marine Combat Training – at the final day of their Combat Hunter course April 25.

Fifteen CLB Marines teamed up with 15 2nd Marine Logistics Group Marines to take the modified course, taught by Marines from the School of Infantry - East. Up to this point, it had been completed almost exclusively by infantry Marines here, not because of segregation, but simply because the training is so new. The Training and Education Command approved implementation of the Combat Hunter course in August 2007.

"Many of our country's great explorers were hunters," said Capt. Michael Murray, officer-in-charge of the Combat Hunter course with the SOI - East. The observation and pattern analysis skills inherent to hunting help Marines better identify friend from foe, reduce risk to non-combatant casualties, and contribute to the success and survivability of Marines in combat, according to Murray.

"Now we offer elements of tracking similar to recon and sniper training to the average Marine," Murray said. "Our current generation has lost the skills as hunters previous generations took for granted.  This training instills those skills and fosters that mindset again. It puts these skills back into people to reiterate situational awareness to make legal, moral and ethical decisions," he said.

"When I heard about it, I immediately started pursuing this training for my Marines," Giltz said. "The CLB provides tactical security, which requires an understanding of geometry of fires and so many other concepts taught here.  Everything causes an exponential increase in lethality and capability. Tactical patience empowers Marines to make good decisions and increases their confidence."

"This course develops critical thinking," said Murray. "That is a byproduct that will benefit the Corps as a whole."

Combat Hunter teaches Marines to analyze highly complex environments and act decisively, said Murray. Marines study specific, universal implications of how people act both by themselves and toward each other to profile behavior. They learn to recognize geographic and ambient signals that indicate something out of place. It teaches them to proceed using a simple formula: baseline + anomaly = decision.

"This training takes the best components of law enforcement and the military," Murray said. "It draws on expertise of law enforcement and applies it in a way not done in the past," he said.

"The way people walk and act gives hints that something is wrong," said Pfc. Sean Cowick of CLB-26. "They stick out and I'll see it faster. The training provides an ID guide to who is a threat before they can cause damage."

They also learn to use their gear like never before.

"Without the training I wouldn't have thought about using the equipment this way," Cowick said. "It was very helpful. I increased my proficiency. In addition to profiling and identifying, we leaned more about using (night vision goggles), (thermal sight systems), and binos, how to focus on windows, how to zoom in. It helped a lot doing (Military Operations Urban Terrain). It gave clarity," Cowick said. "It will really be useful when we deploy." The 26th MEU deploys this fall in support of the Global War on Terror.

"This Combat Hunter course," said Giltz, "the Escalation of Force training many of these same Marines just took – this all gives Marines tools to do this effectively, makes them free to act with confidence vice encumbering them to inaction."

"I think this training is advanced because we're not dealing with tactical movement, that wasn't the biggest issue," said Cpl. Josue Velney, also of CLB-26. "It was seeing past that, what's really out there, how to find IEDs with binos, how to use our optics better.  As Marines, we run the night ... We have the upper hand."

In combination with the equipment, the biometrics training truly allows Marines to win both tactically and humanely, Velney said.

"Reading on people's body language," said Velney, "the area around you, the atmosphere, in order to see what's really there, you need those things to identify a threat. It's also easier to articulate at the debrief and say why you did things you did.

"We'll talk to people," continued Velney. "When we approach people, we want to see how they feel, their posture toward us, if they're hostile, if they like us. We can be sure of ourselves. We don't want to escalate the situation, we want to deescalate the situation. This was a good course," Velney said. "It really set us up for success."