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Marine Corps Systems Command

"Equipping the Warfighter to Win"

CSS civilian Marines experience battle conditions

By Bill Johnson-Miles, MCSC Corporate Communications | Marine Corps Systems Command | June 13, 2013

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From left: Greg Taylor, Bridget Jukes and Susan Wood of Combat Support Systems are joined by Hallie Balkin, Office of the Counsel, as they take part in a May training exercise at Camp Upshur’s Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer.

From left: Greg Taylor, Bridget Jukes and Susan Wood of Combat Support Systems are joined by Hallie Balkin, Office of the Counsel, as they take part in a May training exercise at Camp Upshur’s Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer. (Photo by Bill Johnson-Miles, U.S. Marine Corps )


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From left: Melvin Coutrier, Sharon Ward, David Keeler, Jack Cave, Jonathan Carpenter and Rick Daley, all with  Combat Support Systems, participate in a May training exercise at Camp Upshur’s Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer.

From left: Melvin Coutrier, Sharon Ward, David Keeler, Jack Cave, Jonathan Carpenter and Rick Daley, all with Combat Support Systems, participate in a May training exercise at Camp Upshur’s Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer. (Photo by Bill Johnson-Miles, U.S. Marine Corps )


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Brendan Klapak (left), Office of the Counsel, and Dave Keeler, Combat Support Systems, keep their weapons ready during a May training exercise at Camp Upshur’s Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer.

Brendan Klapak (left), Office of the Counsel, and Dave Keeler, Combat Support Systems, keep their weapons ready during a May training exercise at Camp Upshur’s Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer. (Photo by Bill Johnson-Miles, U.S. Marine Corps )


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June 13, 2013 -- By Bill Johnson-Miles, MCSC Corporate Communications

A Marine leads a patrol into a local village. Members of Marine Corps Systems Command’s Combat Support Systems keep their M4 carbine rifles at ready. The atmosphere is thick with tension and anticipation. Then all of a sudden, flashes, gunfire. The enemy attacks, and the CSS team returns fire. Sounds of a gunfight fill the air.

But in this battle, no one is hurt. That’s because it is just a training exercise against a simulated force. Still, it is unusual for civilian Marines to get this kind of training, which was conducted in May at Camp Upshur’s Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer on Quantico.

According to a CSS letter of instruction, the purpose of the event was to familiarize CSS team members with the “basic knowledge and fundamental techniques of proper marksmanship training used by Marines abroad.” Andy Rodgers, CSS deputy program manager, said there was a secondary reason for the field trip.

“This was a team-building event and an opportunity for our acquisition professionals to interact outside of the MCSC campus,” Rodgers said.

“It was a great morale booster,” said Susan Wood of CSS. “It was out of the ordinary and exciting.”

More than 50 people participated in the training conducted by Marines of the Marksmanship Training Unit. That’s nearly 30 percent of the CSS program management office. Many were astonished to learn what warfighters experience in a battle situation.

Rick Daley of CSS said he was surprised by the “sheer magnitude of stress and decision making that our Marines deal with while on patrol, and the complete chaos that can ensue at a moment's notice.”

“I now have a lot more respect for Marines and weapons,” added Bridget Jukes of CSS. “I had no idea that an M4 would feel that heavy after shooting for just 10 minutes.”

The M4 and other rifles are managed by MCSC’s Infantry Weapons Systems, and the ISMT is managed by the command’s Training Systems, so the event also helped CSS members learn about other program management offices and their equipment.

“I was surprised at how much the ISMT has changed since my Marine enlistment,” said Melvin Coutrier, a financial intern completing his rotation with CSS. “When I finished my enlistment in 2004 I do not remember having rifles that were not connected to long cables. Having airsoft-like rifles gave it more of a realistic feeling. The simulations also were a surprise. The use of incorporating judgment in lieu of just a firing range was great.”

Coutrier and his coworkers agreed the event was a huge success.

“Great things happen when you invigorate and inspire your people,” Coutrier said. “This definitely did it for me.”