By Lance Cpl. Preston McDonald, II Marine Expeditionary Force
Marines with Alpha Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion spent the day refining their shooting skills during a gunnery range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 27, 2016.
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The gunnery range entailed firing from assault amphibious vehicles mounted with M-2 .50 caliber machine guns and MK-19 40mm grenade launchers.
“Down range were Ivan targets, which we had to use the .50 caliber to take out,” said Cpl. Zachary Barrens, a vehicle commander with the unit. “They also placed hard targets such as trucks and bunkers that we used the grenade launcher on.”
The gunnery served as a qualification for the Marines as both AAV crews and individuals.
“When we drop (infantrymen) off, we have to ensure they can take their objective by providing supporting and suppressive fire, while they get to cover,” Barrens said.
With a maximum possible score of 1,000, the Marines were required to pass with at least 700 points. A gunner faced 10 separate engagements, worth 100 points each.
“The evaluators want to ensure the crews are communicating, the driver is spotting the targets and letting his gunner know, and the turret gunner hits the intended target in a timely manner,” Barrens said.
Barrens explained that the qualification range was conducted so that the crewmen not only understand the functionality of an AAV, but also the weapons systems that it carries.
“The AAVs are what set us apart from every other branch in the military,” Barrens said. “It’s what makes the Marine Corps truly amphibious.”