Photo Information

Pfc. William K. Blackwood communicates with members of his convoy during a combat convoy simulator at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 9, 2015. Marines with 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion tested their combat skills and decision making as they maneuvered through a simulated desert, mimicking the possible scenarios they could encounter while in a real-life scenario. The training simulator allowed the Marines to efficiently train in a controlled environment without sacrificing safety or accuracy. Blackwood is a low altitude air defense gunner with 2nd LAAD based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

Photo by Cpl. Neysa Huertas Quinones

2nd LAAD Marines vigilant to warfighting abilities

15 Sep 2015 | Cpl. Neysa Huertas Quinones The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

One of 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion’s tasks is to maintain its highly mobile, man-portable, surface-to-air weapons capabilities for a Marine Air-Ground Task Force with the ability to rapidly deploy ashore in the assault echelon of an expeditionary operation.

In order to do this, the Marines with the battalion improved their proficiency in convoy movements by using a convoy simulator at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 9. 

The simulator forced the Marines to react to several different scenarios to increase speed and enhance record planning, execution and rapid response to urgent warfighter needs. 

A checkpoint was coordinated from a communication radio as Marines scanned a desert horizon for any movement during the simulated exercise. 

“The Marines are using their basic communications skills to talk to each other while maneuvering, testing their land navigation skills with equipment they would use in a real convoy and learning the skills they need to actually conduct these movements in a real-world scenario,” said 1st Lt. Daniel Herm, the platoon commander for 2nd platoon, Battery A, 2nd LAAD Bn.

The battalion is responsible for providing the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing with low altitude aerial defense against low flying aircraft and security for air bases while in a deployed environment. 

Marines were tasked to conduct a standard patrol through a designated route around a simulated forward operating base. Throughout the scenario, controllers planted replicated improvised explosive devices, which the Marines had to identify and eliminate. The Marines would risk injury or death to members of their convoy or loosing other vehicles if they failed to detect an IED.

Ambushes tested the Marines’ abilities to react to contact and eliminate a threat while patrolling throughout villages. The simulator allowed controllers to adjust to the Marines actions to create a fully interactional and life-like training exercise. 

The Marines drove through deserts, local towns and were able to interact with the local public.

Using the simulator, the Marines could travel up to 70 kilometers during their movement, according to Herm. The simulation controllers can create several scenarios and interact with the Marines to challenge their knowledge and problem solving skills. 

“This training allows us to put into practice all of the things we learn as members of 2nd LAAD,” explained Cpl. Nicholas Friday, a low altitude air defense gunner with the battalion. “During the exercise we got hands-on training that mimics the hazards of a real convoy and puts into perspective all the training we conduct while not deployed.”

Marines with the squadron were also tested their teamwork to solve a problem in a combat scenario, according to Friday. Every Marine with the convoy played a role in the security of the troops and accuracy of the mission.

“The simulator allowed us to grow closer as a battalion for one common goal, while still sharpening our combat skills,” said Friday. “It brings Marines a new level of confidence in their combat readiness skills as they see the real-time results of how their decision making can help protect the lives of not only themselves, but their fellow Marines.”