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Hagee visits Combat Center

General Michael W. Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps, visited the Combat Center Feb. 16 and 17 to speak with Marines, Sailors and their families, and to observe training aboard the base.

http://www.op29online.com/articles/2006/02/25/news/news01.txt


Cpl. Brian A. Tuthill

Combat Correspondent


The main purpose of the commandant's visit was to witness units undergoing new, experimental training, observe recent changes in the Mojave Viper combined arms exercises and speak with Combat Center units.

The morning of his arrival, Hagee met with Marines of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, as well as representatives from the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory at the Quackenbush training area to observe Marines testing the new distributed operations warfighting concept.

Distributed operations is designed to empower small unit leaders and allow platoons and squads of Marines to operate more forward of their centralized command. It also gives them more options on the battlefield, including the ability to call for artillery, naval or aircraft fire support.

Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, supported 1/5's distributed operations test platoon and provided fire support for their training at Quackenbush.

Hagee visited Mike Battery's fire direction center and each gun section for a fire demonstration and to shake the hand of every Marine present.

“That was the first time I or my Marines have seen the commandant in person,” said Cpl. John Albert, Mike Battery section chief whose Marines all received Hagee's personal challenge coins. “The Marines really loved it. It motivated the hell out of us. I didn't realize how big a deal getting one of his coins was until later on.”

The commandant's next day was spent partially at Camp Wilson and Range 215, where he interacted with Marines and watched as they went through urban exercises for Mojave Viper training.

Later, Hagee spoke to Marines of 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, at the base theater before they began their Mojave Viper training.

“This is not just an exercise,” said Hagee. “This is not a game. This is absolute serious stuff. We want the training you see out here to resemble as closely as possible what you are going to see in Iraq.”

Marines and Sailors in the audience asked questions and Hagee also took time for photographs with each platoon in the battalion before he left.

Hagee also went to Victory Field for an impromptu visit during 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment's family day event, much to the thrill of the Marines, Sailors and family members gathered prior to his departure from the Combat Center.