FORT POLK, La. — Joint Readiness Training Center rotations involve several military organizations, resulting in dynamic, multi-component training. The Army maintains the greatest presence in the box (the JRTC training area), using a combination of active-duty, National Guard and Reserve assets, but teams from other services can also play a role.

For rotation 18-09, one of those services was the U.S. Marine Corps.

The primary task for the 45-50 Marines during the rotation was to guard the consulate in the training village of Dara Lam. This mission was in line with the Marine’s training objectives.

“We have a mission essential training list, which we call our METs, and a lot of those METs have to do with fixed site security,” said Marine Capt. Phillip Richard, an observer-controller with the Marine Corps Security Force Regiment. “We also train with an emphasis on interior tactics, such as room clearing and sustaining security. These are the training events we aim to accomplish here (at JRTC).”

The training events used for fixed site security operations included air insertion, riot formations, employment of non-lethal munitions, vehicle checkpoint operations and entry control procedures. Richard said the facilities at JRTC were outstanding for meeting the METs.

“This is above what we are used to, gear-wise and facility-wise. For training, the FAST (Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team) platoons usually operate separately from the rest of the unit, but here at JRTC, we have all these supporting and adjacent units that can build training facilities and support networks for us, so everyone can work together,” he said. “It’s much more robust and realistic than what we’re used to working with.”

The combination of air, mechanized and “big Army” assets are invaluable for comprehensive training, said Richard. “That’s why it’s so important for us to sustain this relationship (with JRTC) and be able to utilize a lot of the gear and equipment that we don’t usually have access to.”

Richard said the multi-component training environment offered at JRTC is a realistic reflection of how things play out during deployment.

“A lot of our day-to-day operations and training (downrange) goes through non-Marine channels, so being able to understand how to work with our brother services is extremely valuable, and happens in real world operations,” said Richard. “Being able to work in a joint environment is a relevant part of our mission set. In many cases, we rely on other services’ infrastructure to successfully complete the mission. Being able to execute that at JRTC is very beneficial.”

Working with other services can present a few challenges, according to Richard. “The SOPs (standard operating procedures) can vary between the services, so we have to plan far ahead of an event to ensure we are meeting everyone’s expectations,” Richard said. “Sometimes those expectations are not well communicated, and last-minute changes and adjustments have to be made. But we try to mitigate that by sending advanced parties to close those gaps using pre-deployment site surveys and attending final planning conferences.”

Richard said the skills honed by the Marines during Rotation 18-09 will serve them well in any future missions.

“It’s great to get that feedback from professional Army observer-controllers and the (Marine OCTs),” he said. “We have as close as you can get to real-world tactical scenarios happening not just to us, but also to higher units that we are associated with. It’s as free play as we can get, and being able to feel the effects of any friction yet maintain a flexible attitude is absolutely invaluable for small unit leaders like us.”