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05-06-09, 07:54 AM
Marines Prepare for What is to Come
May 05, 2009
Marine Corps News

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Under cover of the thick tree line, Marines and Sailors with 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division conducted training with the M777A2 Light-weight Howitzer, here. The Marines and sailors spent two days at Gun Point 23 training in both artillery and improvised infantry tactics.

“We are practicing many aspects of what we expect to see when we deploy,” said 1st Lt. Albert Silva, Kilo Battery’s executive officer. “We are refreshing basics of artillery, and practicing (basic infantry tactics).”

Fighting holes surrounded the small clearing where Marines provided security as provisional infantry when not manning the cannons.

Leading from his experiences in the Marine Corps, Cpl. Scott Frankenberry, an assistant chief with the battery, is training his Marines to be prepared for the unknown. He said the lessons being taught were also to ensure his unit is prepared for operating outside of their specialties like he did during his last deployment to Iraq.

“While deployed to Iraq, we spent most of our time as a support asset, serving as quick reaction forces,” said Frankenberry..

Expecting a deployment later this year, Frankenberry and other non-commissioned officers said they are working hard to meet the battalion’s pre-deployment requirements and train new Marines straight from field artillery school.

In school, Marines cover the basics about artillery. It is at their new units that they are taught ways to build upon those initial lessons.

“It is our job to teach them more efficient ways and faster techniques,” explained Frankenberry.

Introduction of the Corps’ current artillery cannon, the M777A2, in 2005, required new training protocols to ensure Marines take full advantage of technological advances.

“The [howitzer] is lighter and has more digital hardware than the older weapon systems,” Silva said. “so we are focusing on how to utilize the howitzer efficiently.”

One piece of the hardware the Marines must work with is a digital interface that sends fire mission data directly to the gun. Additionally, the Marine who watches the device passes the coordinates and information along to the rest of the crew.

The expeditionary nature of their mission may call for quick and conventional employment of the weapon system. Therefore, the crews received orders throughout the day, directing them to pack up the artillery cannon and transport it to a different location.

“You have to expect the worst,” said Pfc. Bret Shockley, a field artillery cannoneer with the unit. “We have to train in every aspect to prepare us for anything.”