FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- After nearly a seven-hour bus trip from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Marines with 3rd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, readied their amphibious assault vehicles for training at Army Base Fort A.P. Hill, Va.
The training at Fort A.P. Hill lasted from May 30 to June 3, 2013, and the Marines of 3rd platoon, knew they to needed to take advantage of every moment.
“The advantages of Fort A.P. Hill are significant. You can’t get this in Camp Lejeune,” said 2nd Lt. Ryan C. Spangler, the 3rd platoon commander. “We can maneuver off-road and on-road. We can use HEDP (high explosive dual purpose grenades) rounds on certain ranges. Overall, it’s a much larger facility we get to train on compared to Camp Lejeune.”
AA Bn. has different levels of gunnery training. Third platoon spent two days conducting Level 5000 Mission Essential Task training.
Level 5000 training consists of assaulting an objective as a whole platoon using all 12 of their AAVs, said Staff Sgt. Brent Wade, the platoon sergeant for 3rd platoon.
“Typically you can only get this type of training at 29 Palms during an (Integrated Training Exercise),” said Wade. “I think it’s a big deal for the Marines, maneuvering as a platoon at this level and getting live-fire opportunities.”
Throughout the exercise, .50 Caliber machine guns and 40mm grenade launchers echoed through the training grounds as the Marines became more comfortable with maneuvering, firing and working as a platoon.
“Training over (at Fort A.P. Hill) captures a much more realistic aspect of maneuvering AAVs, employing their weapon systems and conducting offensive tactics,” said Spangler. “This trains the Marines to understand the capabilities and limitations of the vehicle.”
Third platoon had been preparing throughout the year to be able to conduct this training.
“Crew-level, section-level and platoon-level training. You go through all of the levels,” said Wade. “First the single (AAV) crew, then section level training so that each section leader controls his section, then what we’re doing now, having all sections work together in a platoon element.”
This training is one of the few times AA Bn. has come out to Fort A.P. Hill to take advantage of the training grounds provided.
“Fort A.P. Hill is some of the best well-rounded training we can get on the East Coast,” said Spangler. “Great for us, before we go out to do an ITX, MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) or deployment.”