MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines with Scout Sniper Platoon, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, executed a combined machine gun and sniper rifle range exercise April 6, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The Marines fired the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M240B Machine Gun, M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle, and the M40A5 Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle during their course of fire on the range.
The platoon wanted to stress the importance of the relationship between machine gunners and snipers in their group.
“Unlike other infantry platoons, the machine guns aren’t the most important part of the scout sniper platoons,” said Cpl. Jeffrey Morrison, a radio operator and machine gun subject matter expert with the platoon. “The machine guns support our snipers, and it’s important we all have a working knowledge of the weapon systems if we have to employ them in the future.”
Many of the Marines in the platoon are new to the group, either being pulled from other platoons in the battalion, or recently coming out of the School of Infantry. Part of the platoon’s goal during the range was to help build cohesiveness and camaraderie between the younger Marines and the more experienced ones.
“The Marines we pull from other platoons are smart Marines,” said Sgt. Stephen Bilbo, the scout sniper scout chief. “We like to grab the independent thinkers for our platoon, and when they see our more veteran Marines, it’s very easy for the younger ones to see their maturity level and experience to learn from. They kind of learn to act as one cohesive unit out here.”
During the range, the Marines fired the Table 1 Machine Gun Qualification, and then executed an unknown distance sniper shoot.
“They don’t teach machine guns at SOI anymore, except specifically for machine gunners,” Morrison said. “A lot of our Marines have never held one of our machine guns before, so this was all about getting them acquainted with it. We’ve been having classes on them in the past, and now it’s time for them to show what they’ve learned.”
The Marines were able to get their hands on the different weapon systems the platoon employs, and as a whole, the training was a success.
“Our training went well,” said Bilbo, a Nashville native. “All the Marines grasped the concepts we’re trying to teach them. They learned how to properly fire the machine guns, as well as learning to properly use range estimation and engaging targets during the sniper portion.”
The battalion returned from a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom last year and now they are looking ahead to their Unit Deployment Program to Okinawa, Japan.
“Everything we’re doing is in preparation for what’s up next,” said Morrison, a Prosper, Texas, native. “With our upcoming UPD, we’re going to ensure we all know our jobs as well as possible.”