CAMP FUJI, Japan -- Marines with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division are utilizing the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) to increase artillery live-fire proficiency.
The Marine Corps has used digital shooting for almost a decade now, but the forward-deployed battalion is constantly fine tuning it to be more efficient, according to Cpl. Mathieu Blakely, the fire direction control man with Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment.
The digital aspect is an operational advantage because all voice transactions and human errors are removed when passing commands from fire direction control to the gun line, according to Blakely.
“Any opportunity where we include the combat standard operating procedures method is extremely valuable,” said Blakely, a Baltimore, native. “We’re taking appropriate measures to be a more safe and sufficient combat unit.”
During the fire mission, the observer notes the position of the target and sends its coordinates to the fire direction controller (FDC). The FDC then confirms the location and sends the coordinates to the recorder on the gun line, who tells the field artillery Marines how much to move the gun and the firing process begins.
The AFATDS allows commands to be passed quicker to those on the gun line, and the batteries respond quickly and efficiently when they receive a notification for fire support.
The Marines are able to have a full fire mission process through the chain of command without a single word being spoken, according to 1st Lt. Caleb Kadrmas, platoon commander with the battalion from Rapid City. Marines with 3/12 are more tactically efficient when using AFATDS and are constantly improving upon it to make it and themselves better, he added.
The battalion is on Fuji to conduct Artillery Relocation Training Program 18-1. ARTP 18-1 is a Japan-funded, routine training exercise that allows Marines with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, based out of Camp Hansen, Okinawa, to conduct live-fire training in Japan.