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A heavy machine gun team pour rounds down range as Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, puts Combat Center Range 401 to the test, May 15.

Photo by Pfc. Michael T. Gams

Trial by live-fire; 3/4 christens new range

15 May 2009 | Pfc. Michael T. Gams

The Marines and sailors from Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, swarmed the hills and bunkers of the Combat Center’s newly-constructed Range 401 May 15 as the entire company tested the range.

The live-fire range was designed by the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group to support the enhanced Mojave Viper, a pre-deployment training package that units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan must complete.

“We are providing Kilo Company to validate the range,” said Maj. Rigoberto Colon, the battalion operations officer for 3/4 and a New York City native. “We worked closely with TTECG, and spent a great deal of time with the overall design and setup to ensure a challenging training evolution.”

To successfully complete the evolution, Company K used 81mm and 60mm mortars, heavy machine guns, a scout sniper team, combat engineers and rifle platoons working as a team to effectively destroy three mock enemy positions.

The combat engineers first created a diversion breach in the enemy defenses while the heavy machine guns destroyed the enemy observation and listening posts.

The combat engineers then breached the enemy wire and mine fields with Bangalore torpedoes and Antipersonnel Obstacle Breaching Systems.

After the defenses were breached, the rifleman and machine gun squads were able to swarm the hills and enemy trenches successfully capturing enemy positions and strongholds.

While the riflemen and machine gunners neutralized the enemy on the ground, mortarmen set up positions to destroy more fortified positions in the hills.

“Training like this puts the pressure on the leaders in the company,” said Cpl. Geoffrey R. Moffet, a team leader with Company K, 3/4, and a San Diego native. ”Every leader, from the platoon commanders to the team leaders, had their initiative and ability to plan for the future tested.”

The training not only challenged the Marines and sailors mentally, it was physically demanding as well.

“It’s hot out here,” said Pfc. George Caswell, a machine gunner with the Company and a Fresno, Calif. native. “We’re out in the sun with full gear, carrying ammunition and everything, running up and down hills, putting rounds down range—it gets hard.”

Caswell said even though the training was hard, he felt it helped the Company prepare for what they may face in a combat situation. He also said that it was this type of field operation he joined the Marine Corps to do.

The company used the training to not only help TTECG verify the newly-created Range 401, but to help the company prepare for a combat deployment in the fall, Colon said.

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