MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE N.C. -- Third Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, artillery teams conducted a field training and readiness firing exercise here recently.
The battalion conducted firing missions over the New River and needed approval from the highest ranks because it was the first firing event over the New River at Camp Lejeune in several years.
“In order for us to shoot across the river, we needed approval from range control and the base commanding general,” said Capt. Mark McCarroll, the operations officer for the battalion. “This hasn’t been done in 15 years. It takes a lot of work and effort to shoot across the river. It’s a public waterway and has to be closed while we are doing our firing missions.”
The Marines had prepared for this event for several weeks. They practiced speed shifts in previous training missions, which involved aiming an M-198 medium-towed howitzer to one range, then alternating to another target. The Marines would elevate the barrel, pick up the legs, or trails, and point the howitzer to a new direction of fire.
“So far, we have only done speed shifts in practice,” said Lance Cpl. Robert Ledford, a cannoneer with the battalion. “Our team has never fired an out of traverse mission before today.”
Training out of traverse missions is essential for an artillery unit preparing for a deployment to Iraq. Launching live rounds down range into one impact area and speed-shifting the howitzer to another area most closely duplicates the demanding conditions of supporting maneuver units in combat operations.
“This is what they do,” McCarroll said. “They need this to practice for Iraq. It builds confidence in the Marines to move their weapon to a new location and still get rounds down range accurately.”
Part of the battalion will be replacing an artillery unit in Iraq in the near future in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.