OKINAWA, Japan -- The week-long competition tested jungle survival skills, basic infantry tactics, and excellence in weapons handling. As told by the squad leader and team leader, from the individual to squad level everybody’s physical and mental limits were tested but with strong leadership and with motivation from their peers the Marines of 3d Marine division completed this challenging competition. By the end of the week they had demonstrated the ability and readiness to fight now.
“I think this competition has tested our physical limits a lot,” said Cpl. Madison Brillon, a team leader with 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, Kilo Company, 2nd Platoon. “Just being in the jungle (and) going up and down those hills and being on the slippery mud all day while doing patrols and land navigation. It’s definitely pushed our limits.”
The competition started with a five-kilometer race at the training center. Throughout the week squads set out into the jungle carrying out route reconnaissance, plotting navigation points, scaling cliffs, and conducting hasty rappels. Not only did the squads have to overcome the physical challenges of survival in the jungle environment, they also had to accomplish their primary mission of offensive and defensive maneuvers.
While in the jungle each squad had to conduct an assault on a well defended village and later in the week they had to defend their position against a determined assault.
“The purpose of the squad competition in my opinion is to build comradery amongst each squad,” said Madison. “On top of that it’s just one final rep before we go to combat because we never know when that call is going to come. Doing something like this kind of shows you how efficient you are at your skills or where your weaknesses are and allows you to get ready for when that call does come and we need to go to combat.”
On the fourth day of the competition squads competed in the endurance course. The squads had to crawl under water as well as conduct buddy drags through the mud in the cold and rainy jungle. As a team and as individuals they also had to navigate razor wire, maneuver over cargo net and help each other over walls.
“Mentally it tested us as a squad which made us work together as a team,” said Sgt. Jose Acevedo, an infantry squad leader with 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, Lima Company, 1st Platoon. “Guys were suffering but the leadership which were my three team leaders pushed my guys to the limits and at the end of it we completed each individual task that we were assigned.”
When the Marines went to Hansen they did another five-kilometer race, conducted a 1400-meter swim and concluded with marksmanship on the known-distance range, which is the annual qualification course of fire.
“Coming to the squad competition was a really good experience,” said Madison. “It’s a really good way to bring a team together--to bring an infantry squad together. Shared hardship and challenges are always a good way to test people and to make them better.”