MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Approximately 30 Marines with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, conducted un-mounted and mounted machine gun operations at Range SR-7 at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, April 6-7.
During the first day, the Marines fired the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon light machine gun, the M-240 Bravo medium machine gun and the M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun from a traverse and elevation tripod mount.
First Lt. Matthew Thomas, the range safety officer and platoon commander for 1st Route Clearing Platoon, says that part of a combat engineer’s job is to be proficient at employing both medium and heavy machine guns.
In three-man teams, the Marines cycled through each weapon, demonstrating their ability to properly operate each system.
“We made them show us that they can confidently handle, load and fire each weapon before they could move to the next one,” said Cpl. Jeremy Ioane, the platoon guide with 1st RCP and a personnel safety officer.
On the second day, the Marines fired mounted weapons from Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles.
“We are a route clearing platoon so we are the point men when we go out on patrols,” said Ioane, a Kalihi, Hawaii native. “We have to be able to engage and provide suppressive fire with machine guns whether they are mounted or carried when we do encounter an enemy.”
The Marines must be up-to-date and proficient in each system. For many of the Marines new to the unit, it was their first time using some of the systems.
“Besides Marine Combat Training, most of the Marines haven’t had a chance to shoot these weapons before,” said Thomas. “We want to get them familiarized with each system.”
While on the range, the Marines fire at unknown-distance targets, ranging from 100-500 meters away.
“We want them to learn how to adjust to each weapon and be able to sight in on the enemy and eliminate any possible threat,” said Thomas.
According to 2nd CEB’s Training and Readiness Manual, the Marines are required to conduct a machine gun range biannually to maintain their proficiency with the weapons systems. However, the Marines will shoot as often as they have a chance.
“We try and get out here as much as we can,” said Ioane. “I’d say that we try to shoot machine guns once every three to four months so we’re definitely ahead of schedule compared to our Standard Operating Procedures.”
Thomas says that the two days were put together to help instill confidence in each of the Marine’s ability to successfully operate each weapon system and get rounds on target.