FORT PICKETT, Va. --
They fired vehicle-mounted M249 Squad Automatic Weapons, called for air strikes and practiced escalation of force drills.
Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, took over the fort during Operation Cannonball Run, a predeployment exercise here Nov. 30 to Dec. 13.
During the operation, the company trained to use several, vehicle-mounted, automatic weapon systems including the SAW, M240B Medium Machine Gun, M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun and the MK19 40mm Machine Gun.
“Everyone here shares the same (military occupational specialty),” Cpl. Albert Birckhead III, an anti-tank guided missileman with the company, said about infantrymen, known amongst each other as ‘0311’s or ‘03’s. “A good ‘03’ knows all MOS’s.”
Weapons Company prepared mortarmen, assaultmen, machine
gunners and anti-tank guided misslemen to take charge of machine guns and successfully utilize them in a combat situation.
“All the Marines, regardless of MOS, need to be trained up so they can put that gun into action if needed,” said Capt. Bart Lesniewicz, Weapons Company commanding officer.
Marines trained with indoor simulated marksmanship trainers and participated in live-fire exercises.
“We are pushing for more than 80 percent of the company to be properly trained in the employment of the machine gun,” Lesniewicz said. “We’re still doing conventional Marine Corps Combined Arms Training though.”
Weapons Company held various training exercises including land navigation courses, tactical air control party shoots, Tube Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire Guided Missile Weapon System shoots and casualty evacuation training using the MV-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor aircraft.
Operation Cannonball Run is only one of the training events Marines in the battalion will participate in prior to their deployment to Iraq. They also have the battalion field exercise and Mojave Viper at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.