FORT A.P. HILL -- The officer in charge of the range leaned over the terrain model, pointing out possible ambush points to the group of gathered Marines. He pushed the pinecones, representing the Humvees, across the ground and advised the Marines about the importance of handling the situation as a team and using their voices to convey information. Their mission: clear a route infiltrated by enemy combatants, to an urban area in order to allow their fellow Marines to safely pass.
Support Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, conducted a convoy live-fire range as part of a deployment for training exercise at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Aug. 3, 2015. The Marines fired M240B Machines Guns and M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Guns mounted to armored Humvees in a five vehicle convoy in order to increase their proficiency with the weapons and practice their communication while moving as a convoy.
“We are in the crawl phase still but it went well,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Jamgochian, the company’s executive officer. “We have the Marines practicing using the medium day optic sights on the machine guns, engaging targets from an unknown distance, and increasing their proficiency in working together.”
The Marines not only needed to know how to effectively employ the weapons system, they also were required to yell over the boom of the machine guns to relay important information about enemy location to their fellow gunners in the turret of the vehicle next to them.
“The biggest thing I learned today is how important it is to keep relaying information to the other gunners and drivers,” said Lance Cpl. Zachary Frantz, a motor transport operator. “Constant communication is so important.”
This range was conducted as part of the battalion’s deployment for training exercise. The purpose of the DFT is to increase the battalion’s combat engineering skills in a unique training environment to prepare the Marines for future deployments.
“The DFT is all about coming out here to train towards overall battalion readiness to deploy,” said Jamgochian. “One of the things that Engineer Support Company is expected to do is to operate and provide vehicles for the battalion, so us being proficient in convoy operations is key to that mission.”