View Full Version : Bringing the heavy artillery

05-03-09, 08:33 AM
Bringing the heavy artillery
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May 2, 2009 - 6:55 PM

During their last deployment, the Marines of Kilo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment served as a military police task force, doing detainee operations in Iraq.

This time, the artillery Marines will be doing an artillery mission - in Afghanistan.

Artillery Marines tend to be tasked with "everything except artillery," said 1st Lt. Albert Silva, the executive officer of Kilo Battery. So they were excited when they learned about the deployment coming up this fall.

"To get this mission is a morale booster," he said.

In preparation for the deployment, the Marines spent two and a half days in the field at Camp Lejeune, working with the M777A2 lightweight howitzer and training for the various scenarios they may encounter in combat.

Part of the training involved providing their own security against an "aggressor force." High-speed paintball rounds gave it an extra touch of realism.

"We're really hitting it hard," Silva said.

Each howitzer has six men, plus a chief, to operate it, said Cpl. Ashley Hemery, an assistant chief. The gun can shoot up to 18 miles.

Hemery, who previously deployed to Iraq, said he is excited to go to Afghanistan.

"You train, you practice; it's good to be able to do what you're trained for," he said.

Staff Sgt. William Dove, the local security chief and guns platoon sergeant, said the security mission is also vital.

The battery is a large asset, Dove said, and the enemy knows that.

"We don't want anyone to have any opportunity to take us out," he said.

Dove was in charge of making sure the Marines had 360-degree security, and he coordinated with the "aggressors" to test the defense.

"We're getting progressively better," he said. "I think the aggressors are tired of getting shot ... We've been putting it on them."

Capt. Matt Markham, commander of Kilo Battery, said the paintball rounds made the training more realistic for the Marines, because they can see if their fire is accurate. For example, he said, they can practice getting out of a truck under fire, and get immediate feedback.

"It's the small things that really matter, and that's why we're out here," he said.

Cpl. Jackson King said he is looking forward to the Afghanistan deployment, and extended his Marine Corps contract so he could go.

The Marines train so much, he said, it is nice "to get a chance to actually do our job in combat."

Contact interactive content editor and military reporter Jennifer Hlad at jhlad@freedomenc.com or 910-219-8467