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Photo Information

Pfc. Robert Huddleston, a mortarman with 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, places a round down the barrel here Feb. 5. Mortarmen honed their skills during a battalion field exercise in preparation for an upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

Battalion’s big guns: 81’s attack gun line to stay proficient

6 Feb 2008 | Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

Marines with 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, attacked the gun line here Feb. 6.

 The nine-day battalion field exercise is just one of many operations the battalion will conduct in preparation for an upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 “Weapons like mortars and artillery are becoming obsolete because how well the transition is being made,” said Lance Cpl. Leston Greenidge, squad leader of gun seven. “We’re out here because at any moment our mission could change, and the big guns of the battalion need to be ready.”

 Greenidge added that the weapon is still occasionally used in Iraq to bombard a known location of the enemy. It is also being used as a show of force to let insurgents know coalition forces are still active in Iraq.

 The expeditionary nature of the Corps calls for continual training with every weapon system. If not in Iraq, a mortar crew could be used in future battles where the advantage of an indirect fire weapon is useful.

 The M252 81mm Medium Weight Mortar is a high angle of fire,

 Long-range, indirect fire weapon used in the support of an infantry battalion. An ideal mortar crew is comprised of a squad leader, gunner, assistant gunner and two ammunition bearers.

 “What makes a good mortar crew is a high level of teamwork,” said Pfc. Robert Huddleston, a mortarman with the company. “Everyone has to come together for the weapon to work properly.”

 Every position is critical to the team; however, not every crew is in the ideal five man situation.

 “Mortarmen are cross trained,” said Lance Cpl. Jemmie Harterson, a mortarman with the company. “Everyone knows to do each other’s job.”

 Harterson added the 81mm is the second biggest indirect fire weapon, trumped only by the M777 Howitzer. Because of its high versatility and mobility, weighing only 91 pounds fully assembled, the mortar system is ideal for defending an infantry battalion.

 In the battalion’s upcoming deployment, the powerful 81mm mortar weapon and its crew must be prepared to do their job when the time comes.