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U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, post security during Winter Fury 22 at Grant County Municipal Airport, Moses Lake, Wash., Jan. 31, 2022.

U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, post security during Winter Fury 22 at Grant County Municipal Airport, Moses Lake, Wash., Jan. 31, 2022. (Rachaelanne Woodward/U.S. Marine Corps)

MOSES LAKE, Wash. (Tribune News Service) — Sgt. Cleveland Whiteside III may be from Jackson, Mississippi, but he doesn't find Moses Lake in January all that cold.

"I've been places where it gets colder," the Marine Corps sergeant said, referring to a training exercise he said he was part of in Norway. "So I've got those places embedded in my mind and when I feel like I'm cold, I remember that I'm not there."

Whiteside, who has been a Marine for six years, was in Moses Lake Wednesday with Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment based at Camp Pendleton, as part of the Corps' Winter Fury 22 exercise this week, intended to simulate arming and refueling U.S. fighters from a forward airbase — say, in the Philippines — for a long-range strike as far as 1,000 miles away.

However, the Marines of Charlie Company also took time to hone their urban warfare skills on Tuesday and Wednesday by assaulting a Port of Moses Lake warehouse used to store old vehicles and equipment.

According to Capt. William Cheatham, commander of Charlie Company, the assault gives his Marines several important opportunities they don't get by simply using the training facilities on base.

"Bases are built to facilitate training, to drive the objectives that we are trying to push on our Marines," Cheatham said.

Among those challenges is working around civilian infrastructure at a working airport in ways the Marines might have to if they are temporarily deployed to a distant country and have to take everything they need to fight with them.

"They have to work around obstacles," Cheatham said. "This place isn't built for Marines to use, and that provides us a unique challenge for Marines to work through."

The "assault" of the warehouse at the corner of Randolph Road Northeast and 24th Avenue Northeast also included a "fight" against what Cheatham called "a living, breathing, thinking enemy inside the facility" played by other Marines. It also included a small drone, controlled locally by a Marine in Charlie Company, to do aerial reconnaissance and other visual intelligence.

Cheatham said while U.S. forces have long had access to drone surveillance, controllers were usually far away. Now, a Marine on scene can control the device with a computer tablet.

"Now, there's someone walking with us, we can talk face to face and tell them exactly what we want to see," Cheatham said.

The Marines didn't even use blank rounds in their "assault" on the warehouse, but the "battle" was loud, with Marines constantly shouting at each other as they cleared rooms and dodged between trucks, pallets, barrels and a pair of old fire engines.

"It provides a level of realism here before we head out the door to do our jobs elsewhere," he said.

Whiteside, who during the after-action review reminded Marines to take notes in the small, green notebooks each one carries to learn from the exercise, said the training assault went well, and the unit showed improvement on Wednesday.

"We took a compound that we did a raid on, that's pretty much what we did here," Whiteside said.

"We're seeing the unit getting better, and we're seeing that we're ready to accomplish the mission here," Cheatham added.

The Marines of Charlie Company are set to return to California on Thursday.

(c)2022 the Columbia Basin Herald, Wash.

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