JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- Marines with Alpha Company, 2nd Tank Battalion and Mobile Assault Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion partnered up for an integrated vehicle breaching exercise at Engineer Training Area 2, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 17, 2015.
The purpose of the exercise was to prepare both units for their upcoming integrated training exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.
“We are practicing company-level breaches and integrating engineers and tanks so we can streamline the process of getting through an obstacle,” said 1st Lt. Kyle Endyke, a platoon commander with Alpha Company. “We have to be ready for our [Integrated Training Exercise], but the bigger picture is we need to be ready for every kind of operation.”
The training began with Marines positioning six M1 Abrams tanks several hundred yards away from a high dirt berm. They provided cover, allowing an M1 Assault Breacher Vehicle and bulldozer commanded by Marines with 2nd CEB to create a path.
The vehicles accomplished this objective by first allowing the ABV fill a ditch with dirt, creating ground-level terrain. Then, the bulldozer proceeded to plow up and over the berm until it was reduced to terrain more suitable for the continuous tracks of the tanks.
“[This training] really benefits us because we get new operators every year and coming out here to train before our ITX, which is on a much larger scale, helps our vehicle commanders and drivers get ready for the obstacles they can expect to face there,” said Lance Cpl. Darien Middaugh, an assault breacher vehicle crewman with MAC Co.
According to Endyke, the relationship between the two mechanized units is important because the breaching vehicles require the support and suppression from the firepower-capable tanks. The tanks in turn require the breaching vehicles to make the path to their objective possible. Practice between the two is critical to limit the time both vehicles are exposed to the enemy in a real-world operation.
“What’s important for us is to be able to coordinate appropriately with the engineers so that they always know that we are covering them,” Endyke said. “Once they are comfortable with the breach lane, we are able to move quickly so that they and we are not exposed.”
Once the Marines broke down the berm, the ABV continued toward the objective with the tanks following behind. With their path cleared, the Marines were able to reach their objective, an obstacle several hundred yards away.
The units are scheduled to partner again and continue honing their respective capabilities throughout the duration of their ITX.
“We have had an extremely high operational tempo in the last year,” Middaugh said. “We are very spun up and our platoon is looking strong and ready for this year’s ITX.”