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Photo Information

Private First Class Luis Rivera, an Oviedo, Fla. native and mortarman with Hellfire Platoon, Weapons Co., 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment employs an 81mm mortar during a training exercise aboard base, August 14. Rivera and the other Marines of 3/2 conducted a two-day fire support coordination exercise August 14-15 in conjunction with artillery, naval guns and close air support.

Photo by Cpl. Timothy Solano

Fire Support Coordination exercise keeps Marines, sailors on their toes

22 Aug 2012 | Cpl. Timothy Solano

Artillery, mortars, close-air support and naval gunfire leveled the G-10 impact area on base as part of a collaborative firing exercise between Marine battalions on the ground and supporting Navy units at sea, Aug 14-15.

            The USS Normandy rained naval gunfire inland from Onslow Beach as artillery from Battery F, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment supplemented mortar fire from Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. The result: a desolate, smoke-filled impact area where grass once grew.

            This type of exercise, commonly referred to as a ‘Fire Support Coordination Exercise’ combines every facet of air, land and sea combat capabilities to better prepare service members for joint service engagements in the future.

“When it actually hits the fan you have to be able to rely on muscle memory,” said Pfc. Luis Rivera, a native of Oviedo, Fla., and a mortarman with Hellfire Platoon, Weapons Co., 3/2. “You can’t give yourself the chance to think things over or second-guess yourself.”

Rivera returned from Afghanistan last year with the battalion.

On an operational scale training like this serves to keep every Marine, whether passing down the firing commands or executing them, ready to act efficiently at a moment’s notice.

“Repetition,” said Master Sgt. Larry Robles, “is the reason we come out here again and again to do this.  “All the way from the (fires support center) down to the gun line, coordination is paramount,” added Robles, who currently serves as Weapons Co., 3/2’s operations chief.

            Throughout the two-day exercise the impacts from multiple air strikes, naval gunfire and artillery could be felt all around base and into surrounding housing areas, a sure sign of consecutive, effective calls for fire.

As the training concluded, leaders examined lessons learned to better the partnership between Navy and Marine Corps teamed firepower for next time.

“From this exercise we can take what we learned and create (standard operating procedures) for future engagements like it,” said Robles. “Most importantly, it’s just nice to get everyone out here to see how we all play together and better the ways we gel with one another.”

            Another fire support coordination exercise is slated for late November between different Navy and Marine Corps elements.