Field Exercise I (FEX I) at The Basic School

Marine on a hump through wet terrainWhen it comes to Field Exercise I you should be prepared to be extremely physically miserable. There is obscene amounts of weight to be carried — over 100lbs. You will be humping all over the place, dealing with the weather, and sleeping on the cold, wet ground. Bottom line here is that you, and everyone around you, will be completely and totally miserable.

The experience you have will depend on what time of year you go through TBS. The winter/early spring has a unique set of problems. You have to wear warming layers to stay warm, but once you start a hump, or an attack, you immediately heat up. Therefore, you can’t wear them when you’re doing those things. Once the attack is over, you’re covered in sweat and not wearing anything warm so you get freezing cold again. You also have to pack a lot of additional gear in the winter (e.g., warming layers, extra sleeping bag, goretex, etc), so the weight goes up. Prepare to be physically uncomfortable in the field at TBS.

Don’t take this to be a reason to feel sorry for yourself. It is here to encourage you to be mentally prepared for it and embrace it in advance. About 75% of your peers will go “internal” during the FEX; that is, they will

  1. space out frequently
  2. become absorbed in their own discomfort
  3. and fail to be able to operate effectively as part of the team.

It is essential that you not be one of these people

During the cold months you will be tempted to go internal; it’s so easy not to care. Fight this urge if you want to be viewed as a leader in the squad. Peer evaluations are due the Monday after FEX I.

FEX Overview

The attacks themselves are fairly similar to SULE II from Marine OCS. The order isn’t supposed to be simple memorization like OCS. You’re expected to have a very simple Fire Support Plan (FSP), and the staff does care about things like dispersion and CASEVAC plans. If you pay attention to classes in the weeks prior to the FEX, you have good public speaking skills, and you’re capable of making snap decisions, you’ll be fine.

PRACTICE GIVING ORDERS

The ability to effectively deliver an order without glancing at notes too much is essential.

Land Navigation

There will be some land navigation during FEX I, and it will be incredibly challenging. The training area is about 3-6 square miles, and you’ll be going from one end of it to the other in a time limit of 5 hours looking for boxes. It’s just as physically challenging as it is mentally, so don’t get discouraged if you fail.

Field Exercise Squad Live Fire

The last major event during the Field Exercise is a squad live fire range. This is basically where you do a SULE against drop-down targets on uneven terrain … with live ammunition. A billet holder gets assigned to these and delivers an order for a simple frontal attack. Imagine doing buddy rushes with real bullets. It is an incredibly exciting and intense experience.

Once you’re done with that, you hump 6 miles back to Camp Barret with about 110 lbs of gear. It is unpleasant and your feet are destroyed by that point, but home is the light at the end of the tunnel. It can’t be stressed enough, train for humps. They are easily the most difficult thing about TBS.


USMC Officer

As a Marine Corps Officer, my goal is to help and educate those who have obtained, or are aspiring to earn, the title of Marine Officer.

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