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Leading From the Ground Up

Lance Cpl. James W. Clark, II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs

Marines with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines fire a Shoulder-launched, Multi-purpose Assault Weapon during the Infantry Platoon Battle Course aboard Ft. Pickett, Va., May 19. 1st Battalion 9th Marines is deployed for training to Ft. Pickett, Va., in preparation for an upcoming deployment. Cpl. Joseph Lambach


Marines of 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, recently returned from two weeks at Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center, Fort Pickett, Va., where they worked on developing and strengthening their leadership skills.

The culminating event of the training, the infantry platoon battle course, is a grueling range where Marines must accurately engage targets, conduct room clearing, lay down suppressive fire and communicate constantly with one another.

This event was invaluable in demonstrating what the Marines gained during their time at Fort Pickett, said Staff Sgt. Matthew Duganier, the platoon sergeant of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.

"The main focus of the training was the development of our leadership at all levels. Beginning at the small unit level, fire team level, all the way up to platoon level," said the Cleveland native.

The training at Fort Pickett allowed the Marines to use what they had learned during small unit training and implement it on a larger scale. This enabled multiple platoons to better work in cohesion, Duganier said.

"It helped leaders start implementing more tactical decision making. Each day we gained ground towards the goals we wanted to accomplish." He said. "It's time to step it up with decisiveness and sound tactical judgment."

In addition to the benefits of the training the unit saw as a whole, leaders were able to run the training alongside their Marines, rather than dictating what needed to be done, said Sgt. Matthew F. Gundlach, a squad leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.

"We need to start focusing on development of team leaders, nothing's ever perfect, but you need to keep working on it if you want to get there," said the Miami, Fla. native.

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