« Marine fine tunes talents | Main | U.S. starts breakdown of outposts in Ramadi »

Combat conditioning at sea helps Marines beat the heat

ABOARD USS TARAWA — Marines and Sailors from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit took advantage of hot and humid conditions and a no-fly day to take part in acclimatization and combat conditioning drills on the flight deck here.


3/26/2008 By Staff Sgt. Sergio Jimenez, 11th MEU

On deployment, the birds are always in the air and it is rare that the flight deck is available to train, “so we take advantage of it when we can,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Kryszczynski, 1st Section Leader, 81 Millimeter Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. BLT 1/5 is from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and is the MEU’s ground combat element. The 11th MEU is currently on a seven month deployment through the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf Region.

This was one of the hottest and most humid days many of the Marines had seen on the deployment and it was also scheduled as a day off. But rather than take it easy, the Marines decided to turned it up a notch. So instead of beginning their training during the cool morning hours, the Marines waited until the hot midday sun warmed things up outside.

So while other Marines and Sailors were inside the ship relaxing, playing basketball, dodge ball or in the gym, Lance Cpl. Ivan C. Ceniceros, a mortarman, from El Paso, Tx., was in combat gear taking part in patrolling formations exercises and pushing himself through a grueling workout that included pushups, crunches, wind sprints and various combat conditioning drills.

It was the perfect opportunity to get “our boys acclimatized and ready for the rigors of combat,” said Kryszczynski, or Ski [pronounced Skee] as he is called by most Marines in his unit. “We never know when we’re going to get the call, so we have to always be ready,” said Ski.

“Inside the ship, we live in a controlled environment, like in a bubble,” said Pfc. Ryan C. Ortiz, mortarman, from Augusta, Ga. “Training like this keeps us from getting too comfortable and keeps our bodies used to operating in hot and rigorous environments.”

According to Ceniceros, besides combat conditioning, the Marines and Sailors also practiced hand and arm signals and formation movement techniques to help them cross through dangerous areas when exposed to enemy fire.

After each team ran through an exercise, they gathered as a group and critiqued each other and offered suggestions on how the team could have done things differently, said Ceniceros.

Other sections also ran fireman carry and stretcher bearer relays to practice evacuating casualties from the combat zone, said Ortiz.

Today’s training was tough, said Ortiz. “But I’ve seen tougher.”

“We do acclimatization training at least once a month,” he said. “Last month in Kuwait, we did a two-and-a-half hour run in flak jackets. We started out slowly and worked our way up to that level to make sure nobody got hurt,” he said.

Ortiz and Ceniceros said they expect the command to push them further the next time they train to beat the heat. “They can count on it,” said Ski. “That’s how we stay sharp. We push each other to the limit.”

For more information about the 11th MEU, visit their website at http://www.usmc.mil/11thmeu.