Quantico, Va., --
"The clear lesson of our past is that success in combat, and in the barracks for that matter, rests with our most junior leaders." -- Gen. Charles C. Krulak, 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps.
The Marines of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, focused on the cornerstone of infantry leadership during a field exercise here, April 10.
"For some Marines this is their first field exercise with us, so it's important to quickly build relationships with their fire team, squad and platoon," said Gunnery Sgt. Tobin Eckstine, company training chief.
As a reserve unit they have a unique advantage to building team cohesion because most of them are from the same area. A number of the Marines enlisted after becoming friends with people from the unit. "We're not trying to mix people from all over the country. We all go to the same places and went to the same schools," said Cpl. Jonathan Gaudet, squad leader.
The small unit tactics training centers on a fire team. The team of four Marines is required to think, act and react fluidly on a battlefield. The senior Marine in most of the teams had only a few years of Marine Corps experience, but were veterans of the unit's 2009 deployment to Iraq.
In their secluded training area the Marines rotated between informal classes, practice drills and live-fire fire team movements.
Repetition after repetition, Marines sprinted then dove to the ground. As the line of Marines advanced, the commands came screaming from junior Marines across the training grounds -- "MOVING," "COVER ME," "SET," "SHIFT RIGHT."
Cpl. Rick Tichenor, also a squad leader, studied each of his Marines as they went through the course.
A perfectionist to his Marines, he has a critique for every one of them.
"It's not enough time," he said. "I'm trying to teach them everything I was taught, but the clock keeps ticking."
One of the most important lessons was to use training time to the fullest. During the unit's predeployment training for Iraq, Tichenor's noncommissioned officers had the least amount of down time possible, and after seeing the training pay off during a successful deployment the lesson stuck with him.
The Marines finished their training well after the sun had set. They stood in formation waiting to board the busses for a long trip to their headquarters in Dover, N.J. Tichenor had other ideas; he gave a quick class on night vision optics and then led a patrol through the woods using the new equipment.
It was one more patrol exercise; one more chance to teach his Marines, and Tichenor wouldn't let it go to waste.
Marine Forces Reserve Fast Facts:
-- Approximately 40,000 drilling Marine reservists.
-- Marine Forces Reserve augments and reinforces active Marine forces in time of war, national emergency or contingency operations, provides personnel and operational tempo relief for the active forces in peacetime, and provides service to the community.
-- There are 187 Reserve Training Centers across the U.S.
-- MarForRes, the largest command in the Marine Corps, has four major subordinate commands: the 4th Marine division, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, 4th Marine Logistics Group and Marine corps Mobilization command.
-- Reserve Marines participate annually in numerous large exercises in places such as south Korea, the Blakans, Central America, Thailand and Africa. Most recently, Marines attended Cold Response 2010, a joint training exercise with 15 countries in Norway. http://www.marforres.usmc.mil/mfrnews/2010/2010.cr/coldresponse.asp
-- Spearhead the annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.