Training Day: Marines Assault Warehouse as Part of Exercise Washington

US Marines from 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, stand guard during Winter Fury 22 at Grant County Municipal Airport, Moses Lake, Washington, January 31, 2022. (Rachaelanne Woodward/US Marine Corps)

MOSES LAKE, Wash. (Tribune News Service) – Sgt. Cleveland Whiteside III may be from Jackson, Mississippi, but he doesn’t find Moses Lake in January that cold.

“I’ve been to places where it’s colder,” the Marine Corps sergeant said, referring to a training exercise he said he participated in in Norway. “So I have those places stuck in my mind and when I’m cold I remember I’m not there.”

Whiteside, who served as a Marine for six years, was in Moses Lake on Wednesday with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment based at Camp Pendleton, as part of the Corps’ Winter Fury 22 exercise this week, intended to simulate arming and refueling US fighters from a forward airbase – say, in the Philippines – for a long-range strike up to 1,000 miles away.

However, Charlie Company Marines also took time to hone their urban warfare skills on Tuesday and Wednesday by attacking a warehouse at the Port of Moses Lake used to store old vehicles and equipment.

According to Captain William Cheatham, commanding officer of Charlie Company, the assault provides his Marines with several important opportunities that they do not get by simply using the base’s training facilities.

“Bases are built to facilitate training, to achieve the goals that we’re trying to push on our Marines,” Cheatham said.

Among those challenges is working around civilian infrastructure at a working airport, such as Marines might do if they are temporarily deployed to a distant country and need to take everything they need to fight with them.

“They have to work around obstacles,” Cheatham said. “This location is not designed for use by Marines, and it presents us with a unique challenge for Marines to overcome.”

The “assault” of the warehouse at the corner of Randolph Road Northeast and 24th Avenue Northeast also included a “combat” against what Cheatham called “a living, breathing, thinking enemy inside the facility” played by other Marines. It also included a small drone, locally controlled by a Marine from Charlie Company, to do aerial reconnaissance and other visual intelligence.

Cheatham said while U.S. forces have long had access to drone surveillance, monitors have typically been far away. Now, a Marine on site can control the device with a tablet computer.

“Now there’s someone walking with us, we can talk face to face and tell them exactly what we want to see,” Cheatham said.

The Marines didn’t even use blank rounds in their “assault” on the warehouse, but the “battle” was loud, with the Marines constantly shouting at each other as they cleared rooms and dodged between trucks, pallets, barrels and a pair of old fire engines.

“It provides a level of realism here before we head out the door to do our work elsewhere,” he said.

Whiteside, who during the after-action review reminded Marines to take notes in the little green notebooks everyone carries to learn from drill, said the training assault went well and the unit had shown improvement on Wednesday.

“We took a compound that we raided, that’s pretty much what we did here,” Whiteside said.

“We see the unit improving and we see that we are mission ready here,” Cheatham added.

Charlie Company Marines are scheduled to return to California on Thursday.

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