CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina, UNITED STATES --
The smell of burning fuel and the sound of heavy machinery permeated the air as M1A1 Abrams tanks rolled down-range on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 10, 2019.
U.S. Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division conduct platoon and section tank gunnery from January to March. The ongoing gunnery is a semi-annual qualification that all tank crews must complete to maintain operational readiness.
“We’re doing live-fire section and platoon gunnery so we can learn how to fight better as a section of tanks instead of with individual tanks like we do for a basic crew qualification,” said Gunnery Sgt. Benjamin Bohm, the company master gunner of Company A, 2nd Tank Bn, 2d MarDiv. “Being able to come out here and do live-fire really helps our occupational proficiency grow rather than training in a simulator.”
During the gunnery, Marines are evaluated on their ability to engage targets efficiently while working cohesively as a tank crew.
“It’s our job to understand what our role is as a tank crew so we know how to handle every piece of information, big or small, that comes into our area,” said Cpl. Jonathen Casberg, a tank crewman with Company A, 2nd Tanks Bn, 2d MarDiv. “This training allows us to work better as a crew and understand each other easily when it comes to engaging a target.”
According to Lance Corporal Ashton Yarbrough, a tanker with Company A, 2nd Tanks Bn, 2d MarDiv, live-fire ranges such as this one train crewmembers to support infantry units during potential combat operations. Yarborough also stated that a tank platoon is effective because they are able to put direct fire on enemy targets, which permits infantry units to better maneuver on the battlefield.
The gunnery gives Marines within the battalion the opportunity to learn their specific billets within the tank crew.
“The tank community has a lot of knowledge to pass down,” said Casberg. “At the end of the day, each tank crewman has learned and done their job to make sure that we can go out and execute our mission.”