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An M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank with Company A, 1st Tank Battalion, advances along a road while receiving indirect-fire support from artillery during a Tank Mechanized Assault Course in the Quackenbush Training Area as part of Integrated Training Exercise 2-16 at Marine Corps Air Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.Feb. 9, 2016. ITX is designed to prepare units for combat, under the most realistic conditions possible, focusing on battalion and squad level training.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz

Tank Team tackles TMAC

18 Feb 2016 | Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

The cadence of artillery and mortar fire echoing off the hillside was accompanied by a melody of humming engines as Company A, 1st Tank Battalion, engaged a notional adversary over a vast desert landscape.

Company A joined forces with multiple elements of a Marine Air Ground Task Force to form ‘Team Tank’ during a large scale assault known as a Tank Mechanized Assault Course as part of Integrated Training Exercise 2-16 in the Quackenbush Training Area at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Feb. 9, 2016.

“The TMAC takes the tank company that is here in support of the regiment and allows them to execute as a Team Tank,” said Master Sgt. Timothy P. O’Brien, tank leader, Co. A, 1st Tank Bn. “We take two tank platoons with an attached infantry platoon and allow them to execute a combined-arms, live-fire event where there is a breach involved.” 

Alongside the tank platoons and infantry platoon with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, the combined anti-armor team also with 2/7 and engineers with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, supported the push across the training area. Additionally, artillery, mortars and close-air support provided the indirect-fire necessary to advance through the corridor.

“Trying to get everything to come together at one time the right way is always a challenge,” O’Brien said. “You have a lot of different agencies from across the MAGTF coming together in one place to put their rounds on the same objective. It’s a great opportunity to bring everything together and see all the different elements of a MAGTF.” 

According to Capt. Andy S. Beavers, company commander,  Co. A, 1st Tank Bn., the exercise provided an opportunity for the Marines to experience a host of challenges that allowed them to simulate situations they would see on a battlefield.

“We did the TMAC with the intent of executing the capabilities and strengths of Team Tank in maneuver warfare to allow us to close with and destroy an enemy mechanized infantry company,” Beavers said. “We were able to execute our fire-support procedures using our company fire-support teams. Additionally, we had support from fixed and rotary wing close-air support to assist in casualty evacuation procedures we could experience in a combat scenario.”

The Marines and their commanders faced many challenges throughout the exercise, which often revolved around coordinating the different moving parts as a cohesive fighting force.

“I feel we did well in having a strategy that allowed us to remain flexible in the offense when things didn’t go according to plan,” Beavers said. “The simplicity of the plan allowed us to change task organization and use secondary forms of breaching when problems arose and original capabilities weren’t able to accomplish the mission.”

Beavers said the exercise is of great importance to not only the tank community but the Marine Corps as a whole and provided a great opportunity for Co. A to experience operating as part of a MAGTF.

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