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A Marine with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, provides suppressive fire during an exercise to evaluate Marines on their abilities on the M136 AT4 rocket launcher at Range 104 April 11. The Marines first conducted a dry-fire run before turning to live-fire.

Photo by Cpl. Ali Azimi

3/4 remains technically, tactically proficient

11 Apr 2014 | Cpl. Ali Azimi

Marines crossed over the berm with their rifles in hand. They provided suppressive fire as two Marines with M136 AT4 rocket launchers followed them. The team leader checked the area behind them to make sure it was clear, and on the order, they fired the rockets. Each shot fired echoed across the range, the first as the rocket was fired and the second as it hit its target, causing sound waves to reverberate against the mountains in the distance.

Marines with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, were evaluated on their proficiency while using the M136 AT4 at Range 104, April 11, 2014. According to leadership in the company, they felt it was important to keep Marines trained in the weapon system.

“It’s pretty important that Marines be able to do this without a whole lot of warning,” said 1st Lt. Allan Wiltshire, platoon commander, 2nd Platoon, 3/4. “We wouldn’t do this in a normal setting. It does not happen every day, but in the event that they would need to know what to do, they can fall back on this training.”

To begin their training, the Marines went through the technical aspects of the munitions and then entered a dry-fire exercise. After firing a few dummy rounds, their dry-fire progressed into live-fire. They shot the rockets at targets ranging up to 200 meters away.

“It’s not something I get to do often, so when I get to I like to take advantage of that,” said Cpl. Adam Ferretti, infantryman, 3/4. “It’s a good feeling to know that I can defend the country with a rocket.”

The AT4 is commonly used to pierce armor, but during operations in Afghanistan, Marines have used this tool in their arsenal only when needed and in a versatile manner.

“[This round] penetrates armor,” Wiltshire said. “The Taliban is not currently using armor, so we use it for a hardened structure. They are able to make pretty thick mud walls and mud huts.”

More than 100 Marines with the company were on the range, either to fire or as evaluators. Although, the weapon is commonly used by infantry assaultmen, every infantry Marine was evaluated on their abilities, regardless of their billet.

“These systems are organic to our unit,” Ferretti said. “Being proficient is important to any mission that we are going to have to do. If the person that is designated to use the weapon goes down, someone else has got to be able to pick it up and use it.”

The battalion is scheduled to be disbanded at the end of May. Their Marines will be reassigned to new units carrying on the training 3/4 has put them through to their new battalions.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms