MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE -- Marines with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, conducted annual gunnery qualification training Sept. 3-6, 2013, at training range SR-7 aboard Camp Lejeune.
Recently the battalion had been tasked to fill a light infantry role in Afghanistan. The unit is now training to get back to its original purpose of quick, highly mobile reconnaissance.
“The battalion was originally planned to deploy to Afghanistan as a light infantry capability, so we were concentrating on doing that kind of mission for a while,” said Lt. Col. Patrick J. Keane III, the battalion commander. “This got us away from what the battalion does for a living as a light armored recon unit.”
The first thing the battalion did to start getting back to its roots was to begin qualifying with LAV-25 (light armored vehicle) firing M240B machine guns and M242 bushmaster 25mm cannon.
“After we found out about two months ago that we were not going to conduct the Afghanistan deployment, we went right back to getting on the vehicles and conducting our gunnery training,” Keane said.
Before the Marines are allowed to re-qualify they have to go through multiple levels of training.
“They do a series of required classes and once they have conducted all the classes they do LAV-25 Gunnery skills test,” said Gunnery Sgt. Travis W. Jaakkola, the battalion master gunner, from Chassell, Mich. “As well as the (advanced gunnery training system), which is a simulator for the LAV-25.”
Once the classes, test and the AGTS are completed, the Marines can conduct their annual qualification.
“Then they will come out here and conduct tables III, IV, V and VI,” Jaakkola said.
Each table in the qualification serves a different purpose for the training.
“Table three and four are basically a work up, they are crew practice sessions,” Jaakkola said. “Table five is pre-qualification. Table six is qualification.”
Each LAV crew goes down one at a time to engage targets.
“To qualify they have to pass a certain amount of engagements.” Jaakkola said. “There are 10 engagements and they have to pass seven.”
Since the deployment to Afghanistan has been canceled crews have been qualifying and working to get back in the LAV state of mind.
“This has culminated over the last month and a half where all the companies have gone out and qualified and done extremely well,” Keane said. “That’s a testimony to the competency of our Marines and a testimony to the competency of our crews.”
Annual gunnery training isn’t the only thing the battalion is conducting to get back to what the battalion does on a regular basis.
“While we are doing this gunnery, we’ve also got scouts conducting Mountain Warfare Training in Bridgeport, Calif., the mortarmen and antitank missilemen are conducting sustainment training, the Black Knights of Bravo Company are in the (Integrated Training Exercise) and Alpha Company along with Headquarters and Support Battalion are deployed with (Black Sea Rotational Force),” added Keane.