By Cpl. Drake Nickels – Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, July 26, 2019
The Marine Corps’ warfighters, the infantry Marines, are trained to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver. To become successful at that, it takes a great deal of communication, training, leadership and a combination of many other characteristics.
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s training facility, the Infantry Immersion Trainer, helps capture hundreds of angles to assist units in training Marines. Across this unique urban training facility, there are over 400 cameras capturing footage for units to review and improve their training. The cameras are part of the Tactical Video Capture System put in place allowing infantry unit leaders to take a closer look at key points of error or success as they accomplish objectives during training.
Along with the Tactical Video Capture System, some of the other features of this facility are sound effects, scent emitting machines and live action role players. All of these combine together to create the most realistic training environment possible, helping replicate real life scenario actions and reactions from the Marines during this training.
“The purpose of the IIT is to enhance decision making in squad-sized elements,” said Robert Thielen, the IIT site manager at Camp Pendleton. “The whole squad reviews the footage during the (after action review).”
After a patrol through the IIT is complete, the squads and the subject matter experts view the footage during the after action review. The IIT and their staff implement a specific guided discussion format aided by the video footage. The objective of this format is for the unit to take ownership of their own learning, increasing participation from all levels of leadership and modeling a tool for the unit to use in the future, according to Theilen.
“The after action review really gives a perfect 20/20 hindsight,” said Sgt. Casey Alvord, a platoon sergeant with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. “When you can zoom out and show everyone what they were doing and how that was affecting the Marine to the left and right, it really sinks in the lessons of how individual actions affect the mission.”
The goal of the IIT is to enhance critical thinking and communication through an outside source. The advanced after action review with the aid of the Tactical Video Capture System explains what happened and why it happened. With this fly-on-the-wall perspective and detailed synopsis, the Marines preparing for combat may be one step closer to accomplishing their mission.