MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolinia -- Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, conducted a battalion-level fire support training exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 17, 2015.
The Marines called in AH-1 Cobra, AV-8B Harrier, and UH-1 Huey aircraft to suppress simulated enemy targets, using smoke and illumination to mark the coordinates approved for fire. Simultaneously, Marines on the ground used artillery to suppress the same targets.
“It makes the battle space three dimensional and takes that away from the enemy. We’re able to use the aircraft support to influence (the enemy) in any direction we want to go; anywhere the enemy is trying to stop us.” said Cpl. Eric Nelson, a Marine with 1/8 Scout Sniper Platoon acting as a joint fire observer.
Although the Marines have taken part in training like this in the past, this exercise was conducted on a much larger scale, allowing for more assets to be utilized in the fight.
The FST leaders pick their targets based on what they see in front of them. They decide which enemy poses the greatest threat, and which asset in their inventory could be best utilized in eliminating the target, said Capt. Jonathan Blankenship, the fire support coordinator.
“This is really the definition of combined arms, it’s not just a Marine and his rifle, a platoon or company, it really brings in all the assets the Marine Corps offers to benefit the guys on the ground and clear the path for them,” said Nelson.