MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marine tankers with Company B, 2nd Tank Battalion, conducted offensive and defensive training at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 25-27.
The training familiarized each platoon with standard tank formations and allowed them to hone the basic Marine skills of ‘shoot, move, communicate’.
“Over the past few days we’ve been conducting platoon-level operations to get the Marines prepared with skills sets they need to conduct traditional and non-traditional tank operations,” said Capt. Kevin Newport, the Co. B commander. “Basic skills are always important; if you are good at the basics they serve as building blocks for everything else.”
Patrolling and standard tank formations encompass most of the basic skills the company practiced during the exercise.
Each of the three platoons, consisting of about four tanks and 16 Marines each, split-up and rolled though designated training areas around the base looking for simulated enemy targets. Once one of the platoons found their targets (usually another platoon from the company in a defensive position) they moved into an offensive formation and engaged with notional rounds. The platoons then consolidated and debriefed after each attack.
“We’re focusing back to our bread-and-butter doctrinal warfare, which is very essential to survival in combat. Tank-on-tank fighting is what we are designed for,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Hill, a tank commander with the company. “For [new Marines] to get the opportunity to build those skill sets is very monumental.”
The company is working on standard skill sets and working up to more expeditionary ones in order to support the needs of 2nd Marine Division and the Marine Corps, according Newport.
“It’s important for 2nd Tanks to brush up on these skill sets to better supply 2nd Marine Division with tank crewmen that are tactically and technically proficient, who can go forth in combat and accomplish the mission,” said Hill.
Marine Corps tank crewmen used the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank. The tank has a 120 mm M256 smoothbore gun and three additional crew-served weapons, capable of reaching speeds of about 40 mph and surrounded by thick armor plating.
“At the end of the day, our job is to support the infantry is whatever mission they are sent to accomplish,” Newport said. “If grunts are getting shot at, tanks need to be there to absorb that blow.”