January 23, 2013 --
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – A breeze blew across the field, picking up dust and depositing it on the Marines preparing themselves for an assault.
The squad leader in a final attempt to motivate the Marines said only a few words, “Same as before boys, find your target and kill it.”
The Marines after receiving the cue from their section leader began their assault and with that, Marines from Weapons Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, took aim in combined fire exercises January 16.
This exercise was conducted in order to prepare for a larger scale training exercise they will conduct in Yuma, Ariz. later this year.
The crew served weapons training exercise provided Marines the chance to perform fundamental marksmanship training with the M240-B medium machine gun, M224 60mm practice mortar rounds and the MK153 shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon (SMAW).
“We are a weapons platoon,” said Gunnery Sgt. Emir Hadzic the weapons platoon sergeant with Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. “It is our primary responsibility to ensure that these weapons systems are employed by confident and well-trained Marines.
Prior to the live-fire exercise, Marines received classroom instruction on the handling, troubleshooting, basic characteristics of the weapons systems and establishing firing positions.
“It (the training) puts a lot of the fundamentals of these weapons systems to use, especially for the guys that are new to the unit and fleet,” said Naples, Fla., native Lance Cpl. Ryan C. Fraser, 23, mortar section leader with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 1/6. “So it’s important we emphasize the fundamentals so they become basic instincts.”
While the training meets the battalion’s training and readiness requirements, the classes are designed to help Marines gain proficiency with the weapons systems.
“We do ‘prep for combat’ drills in garrison,” said Hadzic. “That plus the classroom time allows for an easier transition into the live-fire portion of their training and ultimately increasing their confidence and competency of the weapons.”
During the exercise, Marines were placed into pairs consisting of a gunner and assistant gunner. The assistant gunner delivered the commands as the gunner engaged targets.
“We train as if we were to employ the weapons in combat,” said Danville, Ill., native Pfc. Payton C. Linton, 19, a machine gunner with Bravo Company, 1/6. “Running up the berm and setting up the weapons system quickly and accurately how we would while under stress.”
After three days and more than 18,000 rounds down range between mortars, rockets and machine guns, not much was left except shell casings, mangled targets and craters.
With this training complete and multiple exercises in the near future the Marines of weapons platoon feel more confident in their abilities to use crew-served weapon systems.
“Whether it’s on a truck or sitting down in a support by fire helping the 0311s move across the battlefield, for weapons platoons this is what we do,” said Fraser.