Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms --
Marines with Company D, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, shot live rounds down range at Range 110A July 12, 2012, to better their skills and become familiar with the weapons systems mounted on their Assault Amphibian Vehicles.
“This is great training because we have experienced Marines teaching young Marines,” said Lt. Col. Howard Hall, battalion commander, 3rd AABn. “We use every opportunity we get to come out here.”
The Marines, geared up in their flaks and helmets, took their places inside the four AAVs parked on the firing line. They employed the coaxially mounted M2 .50 caliber machine guns and MK19 grenade launchers attached to their tracked vehicles to fire at targets out to approximately 400-meters away.
The section leader sat on top of an AAV behind the firing line and directed their fire through their communication systems. The Marines adjusted their aim and consistently hit their targets.
Prior to their time at the range, 3rd AABn Marines spent numerous hours rehearsing on the indoor simulated marksmanship trainer.
The simulation is designed to prepare Marines for the most efficient use of real weapons, but it does lack in some aspects that live-fire practice does not.
“You build that muscle memory on the ISMT and the ramp, but it’s not the same as being out here and actually doing it,” Hall said.
The Marines got use to the feel and routine of live-fire. They further developed their muscle memory from the ISMT which taught them to deal with any unforeseen circumstances.
Weapons on the ISMT do not typically jam. Knowing how to fix a jammed weapon system is not the same as experiencing it. Each jam is unique and it takes experience handling the weapons to know how to fix them in any situation.
Working on these skills at the Combat Center’s ranges helps Marines get the needed hands-on knowledge.
“[Co. D] has some of the most diverse deployments,” Hall said, looking at the Marines firing 40mm high explosive dual purpose rounds down the range. “This is the tip of the spear to getting back to our amphibious roots.”
The Marines continued their marksmanship the following day, taking every opportunity to sustain and sharpen their skills for the next rotation of deployments to Afghanistan later this year.