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A mortar team with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, adjusts the mortar to the measurements provided to hit their targets during a training exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., June 6, 2016. Marines underwent mortar familiarization and proficiency training in preparation for their upcoming deployment in support of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron Fiala

Mortars with 1/2: Let it rain

9 Jun 2016 | Lance Cpl. Aaron Fiala The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment underwent mortar familiarization training at, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, June 6, 2016.

During the training, Marines advanced to the firing line on the range, received a call-for-fire, and launched 60 mm mortars down range at targets out of sight. 

“This is our section’s first time coming to the mortar range so this is a good way to maintain proficiency and gauge the junior Marines’ understanding of the weapon system,” said Sgt. Cody R. Gannon, a section leader with 1/2. “If we are ever needed on the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force we need to be ready and able to support our company with indirect mortar fire.”

They set up gun positions with the intent of practicing an indirect fire method of support, by firing over trees that obscured their targets from view. The teams then established a fire direction and waited for the call to support.

“As mortarmen, we provide indirect fire support for infantry Marines, so it is important that we are able to receive hands-on practice,” said Pfc. Luke Price, a mortar man with the unit. “Today’s weather also provided us with the challenge of keeping the mortar rounds dry.”

Price explained that the Composition B is an adjustable and external fuel that gives the mortar round its power to shoot out the barrel. This provided a safety concern as the water can slightly alter the trajectory’s path in the air, or it can dampen the Composition B, thus not igniting all the fuel, which would cause the round to be shot short of the target. 

The teams were cautious when handling the rounds for this reason. Teams consisted of a gunner, assistant gunner, squad leader and ammo Marine. 

Fluid teamwork is essential to the success of a mortar section. The conditions must be set by the ammo Marine by priming the mortar shells and the assistant gunner calibrating the mortar to the targeted position to ensure the team can properly engage the targets. 

Rehearsing frequently will increase the unit’s ability to complete a potential real-world mission on deployment. The unit is expected to participate in an upcoming integrated training exercise and deployment in support of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force.

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