Reserve Marines and sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-12.2 participated in familiarization fire and sustainment exercises with crew served machine guns and non-lethal weapons systems.
The training provided the opportunity for Marines to implement advanced marksmanship techniques such as, firing while performing 180 degree maneuvers, moving forward and laterally, and engaging targets at unknown distances.
The Marines of Special-Purpose MAGTF-12.2’s command element also trained to build on the unit’s crisis response capability. The MAGTF provides U.S. AFRICOM with training teams for theater security cooperation, as well as a limited crisis response capability.
The command element is comprised of Marines and sailors from non-combat related military occupational specialties and provides all the headquarters functions for the MAGTF such as logistics, communications, supply, intelligence and administration support.
The Special-Purpose MAGTF is prepared to support humanitarian relief, peacekeeping, non-combatant evacuations, and limited crisis response operations. Currently, the Special-Purpose MAGTF’s crisis response ability is limited due to a number of Marines from the unit supporting theater security missions in Africa.
“We want the U.S. Marine Corps to be the service of choice for geographic commanders during crisis response and humanitarian assistance,” said Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, during a recent visit to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily. “The time needed to redirect training teams currently operating in Africa is much shorter than deploying a unit from the U.S.”
The command element can also provide Marines for crisis response and humanitarian assistance. The training here ensures that they will be prepared if called upon.
“The goal is to be familiar with non-lethal weapons, and learning the difference between firing non-lethal rounds versus lethal rounds.” said Sgt. Kevin LaConte, a Pensacola, Fla. native and non-lethal weapons instructor for Special-Purpose MAGTF 12.2.
The Marines trained with non-lethal weapons such as the Milkor MK 32 Multiple Grenade Launcher, which can fire 22, .60-caliber rubber balls out of one 40mm shell and the Mossberg 590 single barrel shotgun, which can fire a 12-gauge fin stabilized rubber rocket.
“The rubber ball rounds are used to disperse crowds in a mob situation while the fin stabilized rounds are used to pinpoint and subdue individual targets,” said LaConte.
Sustainment training accompanied the non-lethal weapons familiarization and involved the Marines using M240 B machine guns and running an advanced combat marksmanship course.
“When it comes to the using crew serve weapons and executing the combat marksmanship course the Marines did great!” said Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Fall, operations chief for Special-Purpose MAGTF 12.2. “The range went very well.”
The courses of fire also serve as a refresher for the Marines and sailors, who first practiced these skills during pre-deployment training on Camp Lejeune, N.C.
During the two days of training, the Marines stood on line, each donning a full combat-load, and shot their weapons from the three, five, seven, 15, 25 and 50-yard-lines. They fired from the standing, kneeling, and prone positions, and practiced moving forwards and laterally. They even trained on fire team movements.
The Marines and sailors carried out firing drills called off by an instructor running the range. They received time limits of merely seconds during the drills, forcing them to react quickly. One drill involved a 25-yard sprint then firing from both the standing and kneeling positions within 11 seconds.
“It’s been very exciting to be able to participate in these types of training exercises,” said Cpl. Adeoluwa Sopade, a Meteorology and Oceanography analyst from East Windsor, N.J. “It’s not every day we get to do stuff like this. It is something you look forward to doing when you join the Marines.”
Story by Lance Cpl. Adwin Esters
Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12