MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
“You may commence firing when your targets appear. Move. Targets!” Marines with Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, completed several rounds of live-fire combat marksmanship exercises as part of Enhanced Mojave Viper at Range 105A Feb. 28, 2012.
“We’re enhancing and improving the confidence of Marines in their combat marksmanship,” said 1st Lt. Emmanuel K. Baning, executive officer, HQ Battery, 3/11.
Marines from several military occupational specialties lined the 25-yard-line facing downrange. They conducted different exercises testing their aim and reaction time as they moved closer to their targets.
Instructors called directions out to them: when to pivot left or right, when to move toward the target, where to place the shots.
“This is just another phase of being that well-rounded Marine and getting out here and taking care of business,” Baning said. “Being a Marine, you do a lot of shooting, and that’s what we’re out here to do.”
The loud popping sounds from the rifles echoed off mountain walls back to the range where the discharge of brass piled up on the dirt floor.
“I love it, the feeling of the round coming out the barrel,” said Cpl. Alexander Ramirez, wireman, HQ Battery, 3/11. “I don’t really get to shoot my weapon out in country, but I get to shoot out here.”
By the time the Marines reached the five-yard-line, the targets were peppered with holes from the chest to their heads.
After their first round up the range, Marines returned to the 25-yard-line, where they reloaded their weapons and prepared for the next round. As the Marines faced the targets, Cpl. Jonathan Hidalgo, who led the Marines through the exercise, yelled out, “Gas.”
The Marines quickly reached into their grey gas mask carriers and fixed the breathing apparatuses over their heads. As their masks came on, their objective changed.
“It’s not about hitting your target. It’s about suppressing the enemy,” said Hidalgo, nuclear, biological, radiological and nuclear chief, 3/11. “It’s about putting rounds down range so they can’t fire at you. You don’t want to be injured in a contaminated area.”
The Marines followed through and kept a constant string of suppressive fire flying toward the targets.
They continued until the last bullet was shot, their magazines empty.
They made their way to the front of the range and gathered new targets to paste up for the next group of Marines.