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M1A1 Abrams battle tanks scan for targets during a combined arms range for Iron Wolf 17 at Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 14, 2017. Iron Wolf 17 is a multi-unit exercise designed to simulate battlefield conditions Marines may face while deployed. The tanks are from 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. (United States Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jon Sosner)

Photo by Cpl. Jon Sosner

Exercise Iron Wolf 17: 2nd Tanks fire away

18 Jul 2017 | Cpl. Jon Sosner 2nd Marine Division

The silence was broken only by the sound of an M1A1 Abrams battle tank’s cannon lowering down and setting its sites on a target over a thousand meters away. Seconds later, the tank’s main gun fired and down went the target.

Marines from 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division took part in a combined arms exercise as part of exercise Iron Wolf 17 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 14.

“These exercises help the Marines build confidence in their job, as well as in themselves,” said Sgt. Maj. Jay Williamson, Battalion Sergeant Major for 2nd Tank Battalion. “By doing this, we get a chance to work through the unexpected things you can’t plan for.”

The battalion completed multiple days of live-fire training, which included fire and maneuver drills where tanks worked with infantry units on the ground to locate and destroy a notional enemy.

“With tanks, you not only need to hit your target, you need to be quick about it so you aren’t identified by the enemy,” Williamson said. “That only comes with repetition, and that’s what we are doing out here.”

Exercise Iron Wolf 17 is a large-scale exercise led by 2nd Tank Battalion, which involves ground combat troops, air support as well as naval gunfire in order to train in a more realistic environment against notional near-peer competitors.

“With this exercise, we prove we are ready to go to combat if we need to,” Williamson said. “We can integrate with other units and communicate effectively to accomplish any mission given to us.”

Exercises like these are critical to maintaining the Marines’ ability to fight anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, and more importantly, win that fight with overwhelming firepower.

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