MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Coordinates and directions are shouted by junior Marines surrounding a 60mm mortar system. While the shouts appear to be of another language, a supervising senior Marine understands every word. “Do it again, and do it louder!” he orders.
The Marines are from Company G, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. On May 17-19, they refined their infantry tactics in an open field aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. Exercises such as fire and movement drills, mortar drills and implicit communication were practiced at the fire team level to enhance the cohesion of small-unit leadership.
Small tents aligned in neat rows were their homes, and meals ready to eat were their food. Many of the battalion’s riflemen were familiar with the austere environment due to their recent deployment to Marjah, Afghanistan. Now at Camp Lejeune, the battalion is working on developing new fire team leaders and training their new Marines.
“The younger guys use [senior Marines] as mentors. They want to take on board everything they can from them,” said Sgt. Anthony V. Palmer, a platoon leader for Company G and veteran of Fallujah and Marjah. “When these Marines get into a [combat] situation there not going to have people holding their hands. 2/6 is setting itself up for success with this training.”
Behind the small group of Marines and across a grassy plane, stood multiple fire teams taking turns running through a live fire course. The gun fire made a popping sound and left a distinct smell in the air. Units treated the field as if it were a real combat zone. Commands were barked not said, and Marines moved with speed. As each target was shot down, senior leadership followed closely behind to ensure safety and proper technique.
“It’s impressive to see Marines consistently seeking self-improvement,” said Palmer. “That’s hard to find in other places. Most people let things slip. In my career with 2/6, I have been continually impressed by their want to improve and do more.”
Immediately after completing the course, each fire team was checked for saved rounds and then sprinted back to their starting point in full protective gear. Drenched in sweat, the Marines moved into a circle comparable to a football huddle and discussed their performances.
“Right now, [senior Marines] are up here, and we are right here,” said Pfc. David J. Gevolino while gesturing his hand high and then slightly lower. “It’s not going to take just one training event, it’s going to take more. But with each one we grow.”