FORT PICKETT, Va. --
Marines stalk through waist-high grass.
“Contact front!” shouts squad leader and sub sequentially passed down the line in equally loud exchanges. Their leader’s out burst tells the men they are under attack, and they instantly drop in the overgrown field – but they aren’t hiding. On signal the Marines charge forward toward their enemy. Marines are taught from their inception at boot camp that their role as a basic rifleman is, ‘to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver.’ On the fields here the Marines of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, practice this trademark move.
In this beginning stage of the pre-deployment work for the BLT, Marines move through this evolution with a full combat load. Before the Marines leave the training area, they will stand side by side, conducting squad rushes while firing live rounds. For this day’s evolution, Marines move forward under the cover of imaginary fire – the sound of their bursts replaced with screams of “bang bang.” The tight assembly of Marines advancing under the fog of war requires tight control of troops by their command and a specific understanding of where and when they are supposed to move. Veteran Marines make instant corrections to their subordinates. At the objective point the men gather around and critique their movement across the football sized field. On the battle field this high-speed game of chess must end, and with each squad rush these Marines move one step closer to checkmate.