CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
In a time of mass foreclosures and setbacks, 2nd Marine Division’s drive to remain America’s force in readiness has not wavered. On December 12, Marines and Sailors of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division conducted a live-fire company battle course for the opening of range Golf-36. G-36 is Camp Lejeune’s newest and most challenging range to date, and the first of it’s kind on the installation.
The range allows for myriad capabilities of conventional infantry units; indirect fire, breaching and unmanned aerial surveillance. In addition to requiring these assets in the scheme of maneuver, the range demands more of the mental and physical stamina of the individual Marines and Sailors.
“G-36 forces the Marines to be better prepared to execute the mission,” said Staff Sgt. Samuel Whitehead, a platoon sergeant with India Company. “We have to be more decentralized, which means every single Marine has to know precisely what they are getting ready to do and the small unit leaders have to know what calls to make if and when there is a point of friction.”
“G-36 forces the Marines to be better prepared to execute the mission.” Staff Sgt. Samuel Whitehead, an India Company platoon sergeant
G-36 was designed to have a more naturally challenging terrain for more deliberate maneuver plans, a unique aspect compared to other ranges on Camp Lejeune. The landscape includes drastic changes in vegetation, elevation and marshlands. The range has been in the works for over a year, repurposing land on the installation to create space for company-level assets.
“Typically, on most live-ranges, the trees are removed and the grass is cut to allow the safe execution and supervision of live-fire training,” said division gunner Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joshua Smith. “G-36 adds the environment as part of the problem. There are targets that are placed in areas which the unit can engage with rockets, however they are obstructed by grass and trees, which makes the enemy harder to destroy.”
Long before the construction of the range was complete, V3/6 had been planning and preparing to tackle the obstacles that would be put before them. Two days before the opening, India Company stayed out on the range- walking through the terrain and rehearsing without ammunition. On the opening day, when live-fire was permitted, India Company faced a mechanized opponent, trackless motorized infantry targets. These targets are robotic and remote controlled, enhancing the unpredictability of the scenario.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Jacqueline Parsons
A U.S. Marine fires at targets during live-fire assaults on range Golf-36, Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 12.
When asked about India Company’s performance, the commanding officer of India Company, Capt. Edison Feisal said, “The Marines did excellent. They came out here and executed with the skillsets we have worked to improve in previous ranges.” Several key leaders on Camp Lejeune came to the range to witness the opening day, one of them being Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan, commanding general of 2nd MARDIV.
“The actions done today is what the future of the Marine Corps looks like,” said Donovan. “As we transition to fight against a near-peer adversary, we need to be able execute on a large scale like this and now we can do it in our own backyard.”
While more units begin leaving their own footprints in the marshlands of G-36, range coordinators and unit leaders will be planning ways to make the range more challenging. In the future, the robotic targets will be utilized outside trenches and have more maneuverability on the battlefield. Night-time training will be allowed as the range is improved and units adapt to its level of difficulty.
Before the opening of G-36, the only company-sized range was in Twentynine Palms, California. Now with this asset within driving distance of any unit in 2nd MARDIV, units can come and train here regularly. The ability to easily access the range will allow units to train and conduct in-depth evaluations on their performances as a company. With every company ready to deploy, so is every battalion.