Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
Marines with Company A, 1st Tank Battalion conducted their annual tank qualification at the Combat Center’s Range 500 Tuesday.
The company ran through Tank Tables 1 through 5 earlier in the week followed by Table 6 Tuesday. The courses of fire involved the use of the M1A1 Abrams Tank’s main gun, M240 and .50 Caliber machine guns during both day and night shoots.
“We are starting off really good and we want to keep that going,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Anderson, executive officer, Co. A, after the Table 3 course of fire. “You will continue to see improvements in the fire commands and the way they engage the targets throughout Table 4 and 5.”
The tank crews were given multiple scenarios to run through. They shot both stationary and mobile targets, as well as scenarios involving degraded systems, limiting their maneuverability and systems to assess how they would function in a combat scenario with a malfunctioning tank.
“The engagements are standardized across the Marine Corps,” Anderson said. “They will get graded on both day and night portions. Perfect score is 1,000. Distinguished is 900 and above.”
Tank Tables 1 through 6 courses of fire were assessed by Battalion Master Gunner, Staff Sgt. Juan Alvarez. His role was to assess crew cohesion, grade their accuracy and present the multiple scenarios the crews had to shoot.
This was the first time many of the tank crews have worked together since their return from deployment to Afghanistan September 2012.
“We were in different platoons in Afghanistan,” said Sgt. Brian Alloway, tank commander, White 3, Co. A. “We identified everything quickly, we worked as a crew, we worked on speed and efficiency. Crew cohesion and communication played a big part.”
The qualification has given the newly formed crews the opportunity to exchange their knowledge and fine tune their skills to accomplish better cohesion inside the tanks.
“Biggest thing is knowing your position very well and then putting it together with the crew,” said Lance Cpl. Miron San Miguel, driver, White 3, Co. A. “Knowing what you have to do exactly and how it ties in to everything else is what really causes everything to run smooth.”
The unit will be at Range 500 for another week, helping a group of Australian Army soldiers qualify on the M1A1 Abrams tanks as well, swapping knowledge and experience between the two militaries.