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Marines with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment and Battery I, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment watch direct fire support training at the Combat Center's Rainbow Canyon Training Area April 23, 2013. (Official USMC photo by Cpl. Ali Azimi/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Ali Azimi

Direct Fire; Cannon Cockers prepare for Desert Scimitar

26 Apr 2013 | Cpl Ali Azimi

Marines with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment and Battery I, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment conducted direct fire support training at the Combat Center’s Rainbow Canyon Training Area April 23.

The battalion’s artillerymen fired the M777A2 Howitzer at three targets more than 750 meters away. Their training developed their ability to conduct fire missions at a section level and focus on crew drills and the intensity needed to put rounds down range at a fast paced tempo.

“That’s what I wanted to see, focus and intensity,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Bast, field artillery chief, 11th Marine Regiment. “Now what we need to do is tighten up those crew drills.”        

The artillerymen were timed as they emplaced the Howitzer. They were given three rounds to fire in two minutes at a designated target and once again timed to clear and depart from the firing line.

“You guys showed you can put steel on target quickly,” said Col. Stephen Liszewski, commanding officer, 11th Marine Regiment. “You guys have the big stuff, now you have to dial it in at the section level.”

The regiment arrived at the Combat Center April 19 to begin training in preparation for 1st Marine Division’s annual Desert Scimitar.

Desert Scimitar is large-scale exercise conducted by 1st MarDiv units aboard the Combat Center. The division-sized exercise brings together Marines from the Combat Center as well as Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. for a week of live-fire combat maneuvers.

Marines with 11th Regiment, also known as the Canon Cockers, will be providing artillery support for ground elements during the exercise and have already begun training to prepare for the week-long event.

“The battalion is working with their batteries and coming together. It preps them for the regimental phase, when the regiment takes over.”

They have continuously moved from one pause to another to fire. Their training prior to Desert Scimitar also provides time and experience for the Marines to get conditioned to the Twentynine Palms environment and shooting at the Combat Center ranges.

“When we first came up here they weren’t used to the heat,” Bast said. “They have acclimated. The sections started coming together. They started getting quicker and more accurate.”

The battalions will move on to the regiment phase, where the regiment takes over and begins to support 1st MarDiv during Desert Scimitar.

Desert Scimitar will utilize artillery as well as 1st Tank Battalion, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and Combat Logistics Battalion 7 from the Combat Center. The exercise is scheduled to begin April 29 and continue until May 5.


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms