CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Hundreds of feet in the air, aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, a squad of Marines peer out the open hatch while sitting in anticipation around an eight-foot-long cannon about to be unleashed on the enemy.
More than 85 Marines of 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, conducted a live-fire, training exercise with the Expeditionary Fire Support System that included a helicopter raid into live-fire training areas and an amphibious assault on Onslow Beach, July 30-31.
The first day’s training involved an aerial assault with the EFSS, which consists of an Internally Transportable-Striking Vehicle, with the 120 mm mortar in tow, aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter. The crew flew to a target landing zone where Marines drove the EFSS off the ramp of the helicopter to join an awaiting convoy as other Marines provided external security. The quick, aerial insertion of artillery showed the mobility and range of the EFSS.
“It was good to demonstrate the capabilities of these systems,” said Sgt. Michael Clarke, operations chief for Battery G, 2/10. “They can go anywhere, anytime.”
The following day, Marines performed an amphibious assault with the EFSS system using Amphibious Assault Vehicles. One by one, the AAVs splashed into the Atlantic Ocean, where they circled two checkpoints over a mile into the ocean. The AAVs then came back, crashing ashore in an amphibious landing and advancing to a pre-selected, firing position.
Utilizing the 120 mm mortar in amphibious operations is vital to supporting the recent shift in focus to the Pacific theater of operations.
“This is training that we will definitely use in the future,” said 2nd Lt. Alexander Decosta, a platoon commander for Battery G, 2/10. “The Marine Corps is transitioning to more amphibious operations and the EFSS gives us the ability of ship-to-shore movement.”
After reaching their target destination, the Marines offloaded and set up their 120 mm mortars. Multiple targets were selected, ranging from one kilometer to five kilometers from their firing position. Successful strikes depended on the Marines, working together to form five-man mortar teams, each with different responsibilities in the firing process.
“It’s not just about showing up and shooting artillery,” said Cpl. Ciao Doinvieira, a mortar team section chief for Battery E, 2/10, and native of Arlington, Virginia. “A lot of it is being flexible enough to put yourself in different roles to ensure readiness for the mission.”