While there were a few exceptions (which is normal, individual Marines will invariably be sent to schools that open up at various times during a workup, either simply because the opportunity is there, or to fill a gap in capability that couldn’t be filled before), Det One’s individual training, or “schools phase,” ended July 1st, 2003. The unit training phase was about to begin.
Just like everything else involved in standing up the new unit, getting ranges and training areas locked on for the training phase involved plenty of headaches. The Camp Pendleton Range Control did not recognize MCSOCOM Detachment One as a unit. Ranges and training areas have to be locked on by a unit. Without the ranges and training areas, no training could take place. Other support, such as ammunition, had similar obstacles to overcome. The Marines had to patiently explain the situation, generally only resorting to pulling out the Commandant’s guidance when they could get no farther. Eventually, they got what they needed.
Part of getting the Detachment ready included building a Training Cell, led by Capt Steven Fiscus and MSgt James Rutan. The Training Cell would be responsible for arranging all training, setting up training schedules and scenarios, and generally handling all the behind-the-scenes aspects of the unit’s training, taking that load off the Platoon Sergeants and Team Leaders.
It was a good thing, too. The training schedule was packed. In the military, down-time on a training schedule is referred to as “white space.” It is generally time for routine maintenance and admin issues to be dealt with, and the time when the men get the most time with their families. Since the Detachment didn’t have a lot of time before they were due to deploy, and still had no concrete mission statement for what they would be doing while deployed, there was very little white space in the training phase. MSgt Charles Padilla described it as, “It was one big kick in the nuts.”