MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines with Company A, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, embarked onto amphibious assault vehicles from Company B, GCEITF, and splashed across the New River en route to the Verona Loop training area, Dec. 2, 2014.
As the Marines reached land and disembarked from the AAVs, they continued on foot to their intended range, where they conducted extensive M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle training during a three-day field exercise, Dec. 2-4.
Before Marines transitioned to automatic fire, they were required to zero the IAR with both back up iron sights (BUIS) and with the squad day optic (SDO) in order to ensure they could accurately engage targets at known distances. Additionally, special emphasis was made to ensure that the Marines understood that 90 percent of the time in combat, the automatic-rifleman functions as a regular rifleman until circumstances dictate that he must transition to the AR role, i.e. full automatic fire in support of the squad’s tactical movement.
“For the majority of the Marines, this is probably their first time shooting the IAR,” said Cpl. Joshua T. Long, rifleman, 2nd Platoon, Company A, GCEITF. “Everything is coming really quickly at you, so you want to make sure that you’re tight in, you have a good stable platform, and that you’re applying all the fundamentals and using them properly.”
Once the Marines transitioned to the field firing training tasks, they engaged targets at known distances from the standing, kneeling and prone positions. Long said this IAR course of fire better allowed the Marines to get comfortable with the unique role of the weapon system.
“In the standing if you’re just transitioning, you’re just aiming at the other target, same with the kneeling – it is much easier,” said Long. “But when you’re in the prone, you need to shift your body so you’re still getting that good, stable platform behind you once your body is fully lined up. The weapon is an extension of your body, so you’re just going to be shifting your whole body instead of just throwing the weapon around.”
Conducting live-fire training with the IAR helps Marines familiarize themselves with not only the mechanical skills needed to properly employ the weapon system, but it drives home the unique way the IAR helps set the conditions for team and squad tactical movement against the enemy. In between courses of fire, Marines conducted relevant concurrent training to ensure they were exposed to all functional and doctrinal aspects of the IAR and the unique role it serves in the 13-man rifle squad.
“In order to get my Marines to the level they need to be at, they need to not only know how to operate the weapon mechanically, but also the doctrinal, conceptual application of the weapon system and how it fits into a fire team, and how we use it and employ it in order to locate, close with and destroy the enemy,” said Sgt. Christopher J. Leonard, squad leader with 3rd Platoon, Company A, GCEITF.
The purpose of the IAR live-fire event and past training exercises is to not only successfully prepare the Marines for their assessment that will take place at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, but to drive home the applicable automatic rifleman tenets that will continue to ensure the continuing success of the rifle squad in combat.
“All these Marines, when we get to California, are going to spend time in every single billet in a fire team from fire team leader, automatic rifleman, grenadier, and as a rifleman they will have to employ every weapon that a (Table of Organization-complete) squad has organic to them,” said Leonard. “They will have to understand each weapon system and their roles and billets inside a fire team.”
From October 2014 to July 2015, the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force will conduct individual and collective skills training in designated ground combat arms occupational specialties in order to facilitate a standards based assessment of the physical performance of Marines in a simulated operating environment performing specific ground combat arms tasks.