MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Marines and sailors of India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, departed the Combat Center Monday for their seven-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
India Battery will be deployed as a firing battery, meaning they will be supporting other combat units with indirect fire support using their M777A2 howitzers.
“This is the first M777 battery to deploy to Iraq, so we’re looking forward to the experience,” said Lt. Col. James C. Lewis, 3/11 battalion commander. “We can’t wait to see how the capability is employed and we’ll take lessons learned for future deployments if necessary.”
While in Iraq, India Battery will be fielding several new additions to the artillery community’s technological capabilities.
One of these new developments is the Digital Fire Control System. DFCS is a computer system that allows the fire direction center to communicate digitally with each individual howitzer.
Before DFCS was developed, the FDC had to give all commands to each gun crew over the radio.
Now everything is transmitted through the computers in the FDC to the computers attached to the howitzers.
Another new development India will bring with them to Iraq is the new M982 Excalibur artillery round. The Excalibur is a round that is guided by the global positioning system. It is designed to reduce collateral damage in urban environments by using GPS satellites to accurately guide itself to its target. If it falls within 30 meters of its intended target, it will make itself inert and will not explode.
India Battery will be the first Marine Corps firing battery to employ this technology in an operational environment.
An awkward feeling of sadness and excitement hung over the Combat Center Monday as India Battery said goodbye to their friends and families.
“I’m really sad,” said Lindsey Ledbetter, wife of Cpl. Tyler Ledbetter, an artilleryman with India Battery, 3/11. “I’ll probably cry when he says goodbye to our daughter. It’s very depressing he’s leaving, but I’m very proud of him.”
Ledbetter agreed with his wife, but said he’s been waiting a long time to go to Iraq.
“It’s going to be hard leaving my wife and daughter behind, but I’m really excited to get this show on the road,” he said. “Chesty Puller!”
Sgt. Trevar Perkins, a fire direction control man with India Battery, 3/11, also expressed his excitement to deploy to Iraq. He said he felt the message should be short and to the point.
“Let’s do this,” he said.
Overall, it seemed the Marines and sailors of India Battery were excited to deploy to Iraq, but would miss their friends and families.
“I’m excited, but I just want to go over there and come home as soon as possible,” said Cpl. Matthew Beaudin, a fire direction control man with India Battery, 3/11. “I want to come home to my family and move on to other things.”
India Battery will be deployed for seven months and will return to the Combat Center in April 2008.