PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - Marines rucked, applied face paint, and trained on infantry skills during their annual battle skills training at the Presidio of Monterey, Aug. 30.
"Battle skills training provides the skill set any Marine should possess at any time," said Staff Sgt. Curtis Raney, 'Academic' Company's acting first sergeant. "We pride ourselves on the motto, 'every Marine, a rifleman.'"
After a 5 a.m., six-mile hike in the woods, Raney said the Marines then took on a gauntlet of skills training at Presidio's Soldier Field, including: infantry tactics, detainee handling, medical care, the military justice system and Marine Corps history. The company's non-commissioned officers provided evaluation and on the spot feedback - including extra exercise when potentially deadly mistakes were made during infantry patrols.
"As a Marine, you're expected to always be ready for the fight," said Lance Cpl. Olivia Aviles, from Murrieta, California, an Indonesian language student at the Defense Language Institute.
The 19-year-old said the average Marine at the Presidio is two years removed from a traditional Marine environment and they need training events like BST to instill into each Marine that "they are capable for the fight."
Raney called BST one of the building blocks needed to create signals intelligence warriors. He said his Marines shouldn't expect to sit in windowless rooms at some three-letter agency, but to be sent to the fleet, working alongside Marines who need their capabilities on the battlefield.
"When we deploy, we attach to infantry units," he said. "We have to be able to match them and know these basic skills to keep up with them."
Raney added that the early morning ruck, the infantry training, and the impromptu ground fighting was more than building better junior Marines, but fulfilling a promise.
"[This training] gives them the life they were expecting when they signed the dotted line to become Marines," Raney said.
Aviles called it her "why," for joining the Corps.
"The Marine Corps has a brotherhood and sisterhood that no other branch has," she said. "The pride of belonging is something that I really wanted and a lot of people here aspire to have."