POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii -- U.S. Marines with Combined Anti-Armor Team 1, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, maneuvered through the mobile assault course during Exercise Bougainville II at the Pohakuloa Training Area, on the island of Hawaii, Oct. 23, 2017.
It is rare for a Marine unit to get the frequent opportunity to train on a mobile assault course where they get to fire their machine guns from maneuvering Humvee trucks.
Marine Corps infantry battalions, such as 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, would be considered “light infantry” since they do not have tanks or other heavy armor. Their Combined Anti-Armor Teams put a mix of infantry Marines into trucks with heavy machine guns, rockets, and missiles to fight enemy armor and other obstacles the unit may encounter on the battlefield.
This is one training event amongst many in Exercise Bougainville II, which prepares 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines for service as a forward deployed force in the Pacific by training them to fight as a ground combat element in a Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
“The purpose of this training is to increase the section’s capabilities in executing battalion-level support missions,” said 2nd Lt. Gabriel Knoll, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., and a platoon commander with 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “We are also preparing for our upcoming Integrated Training Exercise”.
The Marines must drive to six different firing points and at each one identify the target, call out a report, and then fire at the target before completing the mobile assault course range.
With targets coming up at each firing point, the Marines must be aware of their surroundings in order to identify the targets and fire at it with their weapons since each firing point is different.
When a Marine in the Humvee sees a target pop-up, one of the Marines in the vehicle must yell out they have identified the target. Then they must give a direction, description, and range to the target. The gunner will then be assigned a firing rate, rapid or sustained, and proceed to engage the target with a .50 caliber machine gun. This is known as an ADDRAC in the Marine Corps.
Cpl. Franco Smith, a native of Naselle, Wash., and a vehicle commander with 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, said communication between the gunner and the vehicle commander is key to successfully complete this training.
The gunner, being on top of the Humvee, has a clear view of the area and would be the first to see any obstacle or target that they may come across. It is also important for every Marine in the vehicle to keep an eye out for possible engagements.
“The vehicle commander needs to know his job and the gunner needs to be familiar with his weapon,” Smith said. “Whether it is calling out an ADDRAC or a rate of fire, the VC and gunner need to be comfortable with communicating.”
The completion of the mobile assault course range for Combined Anti-Armor Team 1 gave all the Marines in the section more confidence in their ability to work as a team and operate their weapon systems while mounted in Humvees.