MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Combat Logistics Company 36 Marines and sailorsarrived at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Japan, July 8, to begin Exercise Dragon Fire 2013.
Dragon Fire 13 is CLC-36’s annual Battle Skills Training exercise that focuses on improving the individual and collective combat skills of CLC-36 Marines and sailors with an emphasis on weapons familiarization training.
“This is not training for a specific contingency, this is training for any contingency,” said Capt. Charles Johnston, CLC-36 commanding officer. “With the Marine Corps being the force in readiness, you never know what’s going to happen. Especially being in the Pacific, you have a whole spectrum of possible conflict or crisis management type operations you could be involved with, so you never know what’s going to be the next thing that comes up. Being adaptable and having a knowledge base that affords you more options rather than less puts you ahead of the game.”
The purpose of DF13 is to increase CLC-36's ability to function in a combat environment, build esprit de corps and facilitate engaged leadership.
In pursuit of these goals, Marines will conduct live fire exercises, participate in mentorship discussion groups, physical training events and finish with a motivational hike up Mount Fuji.
The final goals of DF13 is for CLC-36 Marines to be capable of performing Marine Corps Common Skills to the standards set forth by the commander's intent at a minimum expense and in a time efficient manner that develops a greater sense of unit cohesion, confidence and morale.
Even with a majority of the training taking place once participants arrive at Camp Fuji, there is special emphasis placed upon the two-day convoy that traverses almost 500 miles to reach its destination.
“This is the longest convoy that anybody in (3rd Marine Expeditionary Force) does,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Aaron Isaac, maintenance officer for CLC-36. “For us to be on the road this long, interacting with all those little vehicles driving around our big seven tons is very challenging because you really have to pay attention to everything around you.”
Given the small area CLC-36 Marines are normally permitted to practice driving in Iwakuni, such extensive training proves to further improve an essential skill; knowing how to drive.
“Over half of our platoon is maintenance, and over half of maintenance is Motor-T,” said Isaac. “All maintenance Marines need to know how to do long-distance convoys. When we did the invasion on Baghdad, it wasn’t a simple 20-mile run. It was, start at Kuwait and go all the way up; push it and push it fast. Marines need to know how to convoy, how to be comfortable in the vehicles. They need to know the vehicles and how to load the vehicles so they stay safe while they’re on the convoy.”
Such a long drive also provides an excellent opportunity for CLC-36 Marines to gain experience behind the wheel.
“The Marines don’t get to move the vehicles very much,” said Isaac. “This is the one time of the year they get to open the vehicles up and stretch their legs, and by stretch their legs I mean drive for a long, long distance; get off base and drive. This is the only time of the year they get to do it and they performed amazingly.”
With DF13 being an annual exercise, some participants find the opportunity to return for a dual perspective.
“I came here last year as a lance corporal and it was really fun. This was something we haven’t done since (Marine Combat Training) but it was less stressful, so you got to get out there and show what you’re made of,” said Cpl. Michael Gutschmidt, a heavy equipment mechanic with CLC-36 and squad leader of 1st squad, 2nd platoon. “The motivation I put out, my squad feeds back, which is really cool. The time and effort I put into it, they’ll give me back tenfold. The first time I did this, my goal was to stand out, be motivated and do well. My goal for this year is to stand out among the other platoons and have my platoon stand out and be motivated.”