Maximizing MOUT Training by Capt John J. Miles A few innovative (and some not so innovative) ways to improve force-on-force exercises in MOUT. Recently, Charlie and Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines (BLT 1/8) conducted a military operations on urbanized terrain (MOUT) package at Camp Lejeune. The package consisted of 2 days and nights of classes and practical application provided by the MOUT facility instructors, followed on the third day by a free play force-on-force exercise. The exercise would consist of Charlie Company (Reinforced) supported by Weapons Company (Minus) as the blue forces. The opposing force (OpFor) would consist of a platoon (minus) from Charlie Company, 2d Combat Engineer Battalion reinforced with elements of Weapons Company. This exercise was conducted at the MOUT combined training facility. In order to try to maximize the training value for both companies, some techniques were applied that attempted to add Page 1

Untitled as much realism as possible to the exercise. These techniques were, for the most part, not original ideas but were composites of what officers and staff noncommissioned officers (SNCOs) from Charlie and Weapons Companies had seen used, or had heard of being used, during their careers. Some of the ideas were borrowed from other Services, both foreign and domestic. The intent of this article is to share those techniques and discuss what lessons were learned in their utilization.

Marines employing a scaling ladder to enter a building. Based on the complexity of the exercise as well as ammunition availability, it was determined to use Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System 2000 (MILES 2000) as opposed to simulated munitions. While simulated munitions are an excellent close-in training aid, they do possess limitations for a combined arms force-on-force exercise that MILES 2000 does not. Taking for granted that some Marines may not have had the opportunity to use the MILES 2000 due to its fairly recent fielding, I will go into some detail about its components. The most important improvement is the availability of a much wider range of weapons and vehicle system attachments. While Page 2

Untitled some of these attachments existed with the old MILES series, they were harder to come by, at least on Marine Corps bases. Some of the new systems used included the M40 sniper rifle, shoulder mounted automatic weapons (SMAWs) and AT4s, vehicle sensors for HMMWVs and infantry fast attack vehicles (IFAVs), and the standard M16, M249 squad automatic weapon, and M240G machinegun. Attachments for the M2 .50 caliber machinegun were available, but a lack of blank ammunition prevented their use. The attachment for the M40 fits on the rifle just like the M16, and fires a standard 7.62mm blank taken from a belt of M240G ammunition. Its advertised accuracy range is 500 meters, which is the same as the M16 system. The SMAWs and AT4s are self-contained and are identical in look and feel to live weapons. The interior of the rocket tube is comprised of the laser mechanism, and it can be set for the number of “laser” rockets each weapon will be allowed to fire. For example, if the combat load of a SMAW team is four high-explosive rockets, then each system can be set to fire only four times. Vehicle attachments consisting of a large yellow strobe light are also available. This light is affixed to the hood of a HMMWV or IFAV and is attached to a battery pack. Each time the vehicle is Page 3

Untitled hit, the light flashes several times. The commander or evaluator gives guidance before the exercise about how many times a vehicle can be hit before it is “dead.” Another advantage of MILES 2000 is that the systems can be programmed to tell who shot whom. With the help of the MILES facility technicians, the serial number of each weapons adapter and the Marine to whom it is issued can be entered into a computer program. The benefit of this capability is that at the end of battle a printout can be generated that shows which weapon was responsible for which kill and at what time. This information is particularly useful in determining casualties from friendly fire, as well as at what times during the battle the most casualties were taken. The game operations director’s (GOD’s) gun with MILES 2000 has some additions to it as well. It can be used to assess casualties from indirect fire, tanks, aviation, etc. This assessment gives the controllers more options if Marines are demonstrating unsafe tactical habits. Because of its improved options and complexity, it does take some time to get MILES 2000 issued. It is recommended that a Page 4

Untitled unit using MILES 2000 ask the technicians to come out to the field and individually issue each system to Marines. The Camp Lejeune MILES facility was more than happy to send its personnel out to the field to make this happen. While there is still a little “fairy dust” required while using MILES 2000 (if the enemy doesn’t have vehicles to shoot at, then the SMAW and AT4s are no better than single shot rifles), the increased capabilities offered do make for much more realistic combined arms training, especially at the close-in ranges found in MOUT.

Marines moving along a compound wall. After it was determined that MILES 2000 was the system of choice, the concept of operations for the final exercise (FinEx) was discussed. Unit leaders from both companies put their heads together to list common inadequacies of force-on-force exercises. One of the most frequently mentioned was weak casualty play. It was noted that during most exercises when a casualty was assessed, that Marine was taken out of the play of the problem and then left to smoke and joke with the other casualties while the unit continued its mission. To rectify this Page 5

Untitled problem, it was decided that casualty play would be as authentic as possible and would be carried out from injury to evacuation. To facilitate this plan, the senior corpsman from Charlie Company was tasked with writing up casualty cards before the exercise. These cards listed one injury per card, ranging from 20 percent fatalities all the way to minor flesh wounds. The cards were shuffled, each card was sealed in an envelope, and one was handed out to every Marine and sailor taking part in the force-on-force training. If a Marine became a casualty, either from MILES or an evaluator, he was instructed to lay down and yell “corpsman up.” The first corpsman or Marine to respond then had to take out the envelope, break the seal, and treat the listed injury. To increase realism, the BLT 1/8 battalion aid station provided extra pressure bandages and some moulage (the realistic looking rubber injuries that can be strapped onto a Marine) kits. They also provided personnel to evaluate the FinEx and critique casualty treatment. They were told that if a Marine’s card listed a life threatening injury and he was not stabilized in an expeditious manner, that evaluator then had the authority to assess him as a fatality. This certainly put pressure on the company corpsmen who had to treat these injuries. Of course, the corpsmen themselves also wore MILES gear and a card, and were fair game themselves. Since casualty play was going to be soup to nuts, the Page 6

Untitled evacuation piece had to be thoroughly planned as well. Helicopter support from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264 (HMM–264) was requested, and they agreed to provide either a UH–1 or CH–46 for casualty evacuation (CasEvac). A landing zone (LZ) at MOUT was reserved. It was planned that casualties would be transported to the LZ either by HMMWV or stretcher team, and the helo would be called in to pick them up. After the bird picked them up, they would be flown around for a few minutes and then returned to the LZ. The question remained about what to do with the resurrected Marines once they landed back at the LZ. The commander’s intent dictated that it be impressed upon the Marines who had become casualties that notional wounds or death should not be taken lightly. To help this lesson stick in their minds, these Marines were assigned a modified form of extra military instruction (EMI). This EMI consisted of the Marine digging a modified one-man fighting position off to the side of the LZ. The dimensions of this modified fighting hole were 6-feet deep, 6-feet long, and 3-feet wide. The Marine did not have to get into his fighting position after he dug it, just observe it and think about what he or his unit could do differently in the future. After a Marine finished digging, his MILES gear was reset, and he was then placed in a composite sparrow hawk platoon that was ready to go in and reinforce as needed. Page 7

Untitled Keeping with the goal of the exercise being as realistic as possible, close-in fire support (CIFS) from HMM–264 was requested. Once again, they were eager to support, and they offered up a section (two birds) of Cobras. The company fire support team (FiST) leader worked with the BLT air officer (AO) and the company forward air controller (FAC) to plan for the use of the Cobras in a MOUT environment. This was the first time for most of them to employ simulated CIFS (SimCIFS) in MOUT, and they were excited to do so.

Marines preparing to move around the corner of a building. When it came time to figure out how to make the SimCIFS have as much effect as possible on the exercise, the AO recommended that he be given a PRC–113 radio so that he could listen in on the transmissions of the FAC and the Cobras. He would place himself with the OpFor and when he overheard the Cobras engaging enemy targets, he could then act as a controller by telling the OpFor that they were being hit. He was empowered to assess casualties on the OpFor so that CIFS would play a direct role in winning the fight, just as they would in real life. The AO would keep it fair, and if the OpFor engaged a Page 8

Untitled Cobra with a simulated SA–7 (MILES AT4 rocket), he would tell the Cobras they were under fire from a surface-to-air missile and had to disengage to conduct countermeasures. The fact that the AO was a Cobra pilot himself only increased the realism, as he knew exactly what a Cobra could and couldn’t do in a MOUT environment. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the worst ice storm to hit the Carolinas in decades picked that 24-hour period to make its appearance. This grounded the helicopter support for the day of the attack, and we lost our CasEvac bird as well as our gunships. The casualty play went on as planned, only the Marines didn’t get to ride around in a helo for a couple of minutes after being brought to the LZ. The loss of CIFS definitely impacted the training value, especially for the FiST leader and the FAC assigned to the company. However, everyone realized that this was realistic also as bad weather can happen in real battles (Hue City), and if the enemy is smart they will try to take advantage of that. Lack of any useful effects from indirect fire in MOUT force-on-force training was another common complaint. Therefore, the indirect fire support aspect of the battle was played much the same way as the CIFS was planned for. The Page 9

Untitled company FiST had a controller with them, and all controllers were linked via intrasquad radios (ISRs). When the FiST leader would send a fire mission back to 60mm mortars set up outside of the town, the controller would monitor it. When the mortars passed “shot over” to the FiST leader, the controller would call his fellow controller located nearest the OpFor position. That controller would then stand by for “splash over,” and once he heard it, he would tell the OpFor that they were under fire from 60mm mortars. If they were in the open, they would be assessed casualties. If they were in a building, they would have to move away from windows and off of rooftops thereby being suppressed. The controllers would also simulate indirect fire smoke missions. If the blue force called for a mortar smoke mission, a controller nearest the target of the fire mission would take a smoke grenade and throw it on the deck. This was good for the Marines as they saw results of their call for fire missions.

From the preceding paragraphs it is probably apparent that this force-on-force exercise required a sizeable number of controllers to have everything fall into place. Fortunately, the battalion S–3 (training) shop loaned several, likewise Headquarters and Services Company and Bravo Company who graciously provided almost all of their officers to evaluate/control. A fairly optimal ratio for controllers to Page 10

Untitled combatants seemed to be one per platoon. Additionally, the aforementioned controller with the FiST and the AO located with the OpFor monitoring aviation fires worked well. The controllers were given wide-ranging powers and were told that any type of nontactical or unsafe activity could be punished with a near-miss or kill from the GOD’s gun at their discretion. In retrospect, there probably should have been a little more guidance given the controllers, as some proved more unforgiving than others and racked up quite an impressive body count. While all of the casualties they assessed were legitimate and justified, if they had been given ground rules about warning with near-misses first—before killing off Marines—it would in all probability have maximized training value even further. A near-miss for a Marine allows him the opportunity to correct his behavior and to stay in the fight longer and get more training. Some comments about better identification of controllers are warranted. When the force-on-force exercise commenced, the controllers had the standard white engineer tape around their covers. Once smoke started to build on the battlefield, however, Marines had a hard time seeing the white tape from a distance. The result was that controllers were confused with the enemy and drew fire, wasting precious blanks. A possible remedy for this situation is for the controllers to wear Day-Glo orange road guard vests, like the coyotes do at Combined Arms Exercise. Page 11

Untitled This should make them easily distinguishable, even from a distance, through a smoky battlefield. Continuing the brainstorming, someone mentioned that they had seen a television program about a U.S. Army airborne division conducting MOUT training. He mentioned that they had enough funding to put video cameras throughout the town—to use them afterward in the debrief. While we didn’t try anything quite that ambitious, we did make some calls to the public affairs office (PAO) at the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU). They agreed to provide us with a Marine to videotape the battle as well as a combat camera Marine to accompany the blue forces and take still photographs. The MEU would then provide a copy of the videotape and a compact disk of all of the still photos for our use in debriefing.

Marine spotting and engaging targets from a balcony. On the day of the FinEx both showed up and commenced to perform as advertised. The still photos came out quite well, and some are included in this article. The videographer was handicapped in that he was one man trying to film an entire battle. He placed himself in the best vantage positions he could Page 12

Untitled and was able to get some decent footage initially. Unfortunately, the high-concentrate (HC) smoke that the blue forces used to screen while gaining a foothold obscured his video camera. He was able to get into a building that one of the platoons was clearing. Following behind the assault element he taped several minutes of footage that were very useful in critiquing room and building clearing procedures. The use of a video camera to record footage has tremendous possibilities for after-actions reports. Looking back, I recommend that whatever video cameras are used be assigned as attachments to specific units. That way those units have an electronic record of their particular actions. The footage will also be of a higher quality since it will be up close to the fight. If a unit doesn’t want to go through a division, Marine expeditionary force, or MEU PAO to get a camera and operator, it is a sure bet that several Marines in that unit have their own. They must realize that the camera could suffer damage, and if the unit isn’t willing to take up a collection to fix or replace it, there could be some bad blood. The exercise ended up being one of the better MOUT force-on-force exercises in which most of the officers and SNCOs had participated. As in any good exercise there were Page 13

Untitled numerous takeaways concerning tactics, techniques, and procedures. In my final comments I will attempt to include the most important ones in bullet format. • Company-wide standing operating procedures are key. The minor differences in how platoons clear rooms and buildings become problematic when units become intermixed in MOUT. • Even in a daytime attack, night vision goggles are necessary once Marines get into the bowels of a building (or sewer) where there is no daylight. • An air panel waved outside of a window is a great way to show everyone that a building is clear. If you just place engineer tape outside a window, Marines two blocks away may not be able to see it. • When a platoon gains a foothold into a building that other platoons will pass through, guides must be left to direct those follow-on platoons. • HC smoke does a great job at screening a building where Marines are attempting to gain a foothold, but it also can obstruct your support element’s base of fire. Page 14

Untitled • If you are using machineguns in a support by fire position, have the gunners make a range card so that if they lose visibility of what they are suppressing due to smoke, they still have the data on their guns to keep firing. • Use some sort of diversion before a breach! • Scout/snipers work great in MOUT, and every battalion has them. Use them to conduct surveillance before and during the assault. Once the shooting starts, have them use precision fires to take out high-value targets. The intelligence they provide about where possible enemy commanders are, where crew-served weapons are, etc. is invaluable. • Machineguns don’t need tripods once they move into a built-up area. They do need them on the outskirts of town to suppress the enemy while the assault element gains a foothold. • Make sure that company and platoon casualty collection points (CCPs) are on the ground floor of a building. “Fireman carries” up ladder wells are not fun and can be dangerous. • Marines need to carry their ponchos in their butt packs because they will not have enough poleless litters to go around. • Poleless litters are great, especially when moving a casualty to Page 15

Untitled the company CCP. Most battalions don’t have enough of them. Poled stretchers are not good in buildings because they are too awkward. • However, you need to have a couple of poled stretchers as well because they work better than a poleless litter for getting a casualty over open ground; i.e., from the company CCP to the CasEvac LZ. The best bet is poleless litters for the platoons and stretchers for the company or higher. • Have your weapons platoon corpsman travel with the company headquarters corpsman. More than likely, your 0331s (machinegunners) and 0351s (assaultmen) will be attached out to line platoons, and your 0341s (mortarmen) will be in a mortar position out of the line of fire. • Cross-training on all company weapons systems is a must. The indoor simulated marksmanship trainer is great for this training. Many times in the fight, 0331s and 0351s went down, and it wasn’t pretty watching a young 0311 (infantryman) struggling to recall his school of infantry weapons familiarity knowledge in the heat of battle. • Very high-frequency communications worked great in the town—no problem at all with the PRC–119s talking to each other. ISRs, on the other hand, were useless. They couldn’t even Page 16

Untitled communicate in the same building if they were separated by a floor or wall. SABRES are your best bet for intraplatoon communications. • Have Marines already designated to be messengers before you go into the town. You will probably need them. Do the same with aid and litter teams. You will definitely need them. • Think about having your weapons platoon sergeant travel with your company gunnery sergeant to assist him. He won’t have much to do with the platoon once they are attached out. He can certainly help your gunny. • The “go firm” technique is a British import and is in the process of becoming Marine Corps doctrine. It is an operational pause called by the commander at which time subordinate units assume a hasty defense and get themselves sorted out. It gives the platoons time to get ammunition redistributed, casualties evacuated, and squads reorganized. While the platoon sergeant is overseeing this process the platoon commander is briefing the company commanding officer (CO) on his tactical situation. Once the CO is satisfied, he recommences the assault. It is a useful technique, and I recommend experimenting with it. With more and more of the world’s population moving into built-up areas, the chances of the Marine Corps having to Page 17

Untitled conduct MOUT in the near future are very real. It is incumbent on every Marine Corps leader to strive to give his Marines as much, and the best, MOUT training that he can. As I discovered, there are plenty of techniques out there, and the possibilities are endless.

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