Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion and 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, participated in a six-day training exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 9-14.
The exercise consisted of numerous types of training for 2nd Tank Bn such as offensive and defensive fundamentals, combat town, night defense lane and a nuclear, biological and chemical defense lane with M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks. While such training is conducted multiple times a year, at the battalion level it occurs less often.
“The training we conduct is great infantry-tank integration. As far as how beneficial this training is for us and the [infantry], I don’t think we can get enough training like it,” said Capt. Aaron C. Smithley, 2nd Tank Bn. “It also helps the units that are attached to us because once they learn our capabilities, they can use it to their advantage and increase their fire power and potential to attack the enemy by ten-fold.”
The goal of the training and biggest challenge for the infantry unit is to learn what tanks can and cannot do and how use them to their advantage to better support attack and defensive maneuvers.
“It sends the picture out that we can provide the security and we have the knowledge that we can also attack the enemy as well as providing protection,” said Smithley. “The platoon sergeants had to think about their decisions through this exercise as well as be able to formulate a plan of intent and apply it in a timely manner.”
The culminating event was the combat town where in a simulated fire fight, insurgent-role-players fired at Marines as they infiltrated a town to eliminate the enemy threat. Included in the exercise were wounded Marine role-players, rocket propelled grenades and improvised explosive device detonations that simulated what to do if a tank was taken out or numerous Marines were injured at one time.
“With infantry I think training like this is the best any one of us can get because we bring a lot to the fight, such as weaponry and optics that the [infantry] don’t have,” said Sgt. John A. Ramson, platoon sergeant, 2nd Tank Bn. “It’s a big deal to do exercises like this, so that [infantry Marines] learn our limits. With repetition, things will run a lot smoother when we deploy together.”
The purpose of the exercise was for the Marines to learn how to respond in a highly hostile environment, while eliminating the enemy threat. The final exercise was attended by Brig. Gen. W. Lee Miller Jr., the acting commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division, who watched the Marines go through the course and spoke with them about what he saw afterwards.
“For [Brig. Gen.] Miller to come out here and be present at the event, it’s pretty awesome. It motivated me to put everything I had left into the final exercise,” said Ramson. “I don’t think we could have ended this exercise any better than having the general come watch us at work and tell us what he liked and what we can improve on as a whole.”