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Rules of Engagement--Training
Training for this film was extensive and difficult since we had to form one unit to represent Marines in Vietnam circa 1969 and another unit to portray modern Marines operating as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) operating from an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) somewhere in the Middle East. We required a relatively large Warriors Inc. Cadre staff and a two-phase training schedule that would cover uniforms, equipment, weapons, tactics and techniques in 1969 and then in 2000.
We drafted a Warriors team of CO, XO and three NCO Squad Leaders for the Vietnam phase, which would be shot in a semi-tropical area of rural South Carolina. Capt. Dye commanded the unit in training, 1st Lt. Stokey served as Executive Officer and Sgt. Freddie Joe Farnsworth, Laird Macintosh and Jim Boensch were the squad leaders. We were fortunate to be able to recruit from the active Marine populations at MCRD Parris Island and MCAS New River for the project and that made organizing two rifle platoons of Vietnam-era Marine grunts much easier. We also combed the Vietnamese population of the area to build a North Vietnamese Army unit that trained under the XO and served as aggressors for training operations.
We had two weeks work in South Carolina: one week training and one week shooting. Weapons package was standard for the era and included M-16A1 rifles, M-60 machineguns, M1911A1 pistols and M-79 grenade launchers for the Americans. The NVA trained with and used AK-47s, SKS Carbines, RPD machineguns and B-40 rocket launchers (RPGs). Operating day and night from a Platoon Patrol Base in the swampy terrain, we trained on weapons handling, jungle navigation, patrol formations, cover and concealment and squad-level tactics. Once we had these basics up to a believable level, we rolled right over into shooting on the same location in which we had trained.
When the Vietnam sequences were in the can, we moved to Morocco to begin training for the modern Marine sequences and added to our Cadre staff. Sgts. Dennis Fitzgerald and Mike Edmiston were recruited as additional team leaders. We were lucky to keep many of the Marines we had recruited in South Carolina who were able to take leave and accompany us to North Africa. We flew to a remote area near Ouarzazate and selected our Desert One training base on the edges of the Western Sahara. On the ground in the desert we organized into a modern Marine Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) team. At this point we did not have Sam Jackson or Tommy Lee Jones with us, but we did inherit Blair Underwood who was to play the TRAP Team Commander. He was an avid student and a real asset to leadership as training began in earnest.
The weapons package changed to M-16A2s, M-203s and M-249 SAWs for both training and subsequent operations on film. We worked day and night in long-range desert navigation, reaction to fire, crowd control, evacuation and exfiltration operations, ambush and counter-ambush drills and other modern tactics. When we were competent in performing these operations, we moved into the city of Ouarzazate and began to train on the set that was built to resemble the U.S. Embassy in Yemen. This included helicopter operations using Moroccan Air Force UH-1Ns and CH-47s.