MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER, BRIDGEPORT, Calif. --
Under the cover of darkness, Marines with Mountain Warfare Training Center and Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment conducted a low-profile raid on a high-value target in a joint operation with special operations forces at MWTC in Bridgeport, Calif., April 17.
A half-lit moon blanketed the Marines and SOF as they set in an ambush along the side of a dirt road. Once their mock target arrived at their roadblock and the situation escalated, they engaged the enemy and his driver with blank rounds, apprehended him and secured their mission.
Capt. Casey Ward, the Golf Company commander and a native of Crofton, Md., said the purpose of the training was to integrate special forces into a conventional forces atmosphere within a mountainous terrain.
“We enhance our combat power by integrating more agile forces in the special forces community into our scheme of maneuver,” Ward said. “Doing an integration like this is one of the big pillars for all future operations, as we go into a more joint force, a more combined environment.”
Ward said the training allows Marines to operate with other elite services in order to incorporate skills and tactics in future operations.
“The raid was an opportunity that doesn’t come often and we are glad we had this chance,” Ward said.
Lance Cpl. Joshua Blakemore, an intelligence specialist for Golf Company and native of Columbus, Ohio, said providing an overview of what is occurring helps him understand how things work in a tactical situation like a raid.
“This training allows me to develop a picture for my company in order for us to conduct our mission,” Blakemore said. “The overall training here has been awesome because it helped me to get a good idea of what is needed to survive in the mountains. Skiing was hard, but I think if we ever go to war in a mountainous terrain, we will be ready to fight the enemy because of this training.”
Retired United States Navy SEAL, Capt. David Pittelkow, the MWTC SOF liaison officer, said this training benefits Marines in their futures, wherever they may find themselves.
“When Marines deploy, they end up running into SEALs, Rangers and special forces guys on the battlefield,” Pittelkow a Addy, Wash., native said. “We fight the enemy together. The intent of the special operations command and the Marine Corps is to get some special operations and Marine Corps integration here with their training, so the first time they meet isn’t on deployment.”
Pittelkow said his years of experience as a SEAL offer the chance to conduct planning and give advice to Marine Corps units. He was also a Marine with 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines 30 years ago.
“I can replicate what they might see,” Pittelkow said. “They can get the procedures, tactics, techniques and mindset of special operations personnel which is useful in their futures.”
Lance Cpl. Stephen Weiss, police sergeant for Golf Company and a native of Loogootee, Ind., said the raid training made him more aware of his billet.
“I was more aware of the moving parts of everything besides just my company,” Weiss said. “I was looking out for other pieces too, looking after the whole picture. The training has been good but very tough, because of the high altitude and constant moving. But we are just doing our job.”
Pittelkow said the training MWTC offers is unique.
“There’s just something about living and working outside, hiking long distances with a ruck sack and being acclimatized to whatever environment you’re in,” Pittelkow said. “You still have to shoot, move and communicate no matter where you are. These mountains are as challenging as it gets. It’s physically, mentally stressing and tough so it’s a good gut check no matter where they end up deploying.”