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Artillery rounds fired by Marines with 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment make impact at Observation Post 3 during a battalion field exercise held by 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, March 15, 2016. The battalion coordinated with artillery, mortars and rotary-wing aircraft to direct fire support.

Photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

'America’s Battalion' concludes battalion field exercise

18 Mar 2016 | Cpl. Paul S. Martinez The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 combined forces to execute a fire-support coordination exercise as part of a battalion field exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, March 15.

The battalion began their FEX March 8 in preparation for their upcoming evolution during the integrated training exercise, and their future deployment in support of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response and Black Sea Rotational Force.

“We planned our FEX around a lot of the core mission-essential tasks we will be responsible for conducting during our integrated training exercise,” said Capt. Jeff Cummings, the operations officer for 2nd Bn., 8th Marines. 

Initial exercises focused on developing the company-level infantry tactics, including patrols and movement to contact, air-inserts, defense against an opposing force and Military Operations in Urban Terrain, conducted across different training ranges. 

“On deployment, there is the expectation that we will be interoperable with both Marine Corps and joint-service partners,” Cummings said. “There’s a building block approach in getting to that end state where during ITX we will be expected to have our Marines familiarized and confident in their abilities to employ and deploy with other assets.”

The culminating event allowed forward air controllers and observers alike that will be attached to the unit and moving forward among them to properly and effectively direct fire support to destroy targets. 

“This is the first time we’ve come together to do a live-fire evolution as a fire-support team, integrating both artillery and the infantry community as well as aviation,” said 1st Lt. Daniel P. Murphy, a forward observer with Echo Company, 2nd Bn., 8th Marines.

Murphy explained the concept of fire-support team operations as tasking the artillery with destroying targets that would pose a threat to aircraft, then having close-air support engage remaining targets such as enemy armor, finally setting the conditions for the infantry to move in and secure their given objective.

“My junior Marines are getting schooled-up on working in a fire-support team,” Murphy said. “It’s important to get out here and do live-fire evolutions. It’s a good place to get started and to learn how to integrate artillery, mortars and aircraft in an exercise.”

The battalion is slated to begin their ITX evolution in May.

“We have a long way to go and ITX will test us,” Cummings said. “Our Marines put a lot of work into this FEX across all warfighting functions.”

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