CAMP RIPPER, AL ASAD, Iraq -- Marines with Company A, 1st Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team-2, based out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., conducted a live fire range here today.
The range was conducted to prepare the company’s new tanks for combat operations.
“We need to make sure the weapons on the tank are accurate and to confirm the functionality of the machine guns,” explained 28-year-old 1st Lt. Anthony Davis, the company executive officer.
The Marines’ main mission during the range was to zero, or properly sighted, the 120mm main gun on their M1A1 Abrams tank.
They fired four rounds from each tank’s main gun and also zeroed the .50 caliber heavy machine gun and M240G medium machine gun, which are the other weapon systems on a tank.
The range was important for more than zeroing weapons, according to Davis. It was also built confidence in the operation of the weapons.
“The range helps give us confidence in the weapon systems and make us confident that they’ll fire and fire accurately, because each of these tanks will be taken into combat,” said the Georgia Tech graduate from Atlanta.
One Marine that participated in the range was 29-year-old Sgt. Juan Alvarez, the company commander’s gunner.
“This range lets us know that wherever we aim at we’re going to hit. It’s basically the rifle range for tanks,” explained the South Sioux, Neb., native.
According to 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Jonathan Griffith, a loader and mechanic on Alvarez’s tank, the range gave the Marines a chance to work out the “quirks” of the new tanks.
“In case something is weak and will break, we can fix it here. It’s better if it breaks here than in a combat situation. So this range let us break in the tanks and get them running and ready for combat,” said the Idaho Falls, Idaho, native.
The Marines of Company A successfully completed the zeroing range today, testing and accurately firing all the tank weapon systems and got three new tanks ready for combat.
According to Davis, the company tries to conduct ranges like this as often as possible while they are in Iraq.
“During training in the States we conduct these ranges every six months, but out here we try to stay proficient for each combat operation,” Davis said.