Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
Standing in the turret of the Humvee, Lance Cpl. Steven Bullock stared across the range, spotting an armored enemy vehicle just over a mile away.
Bullock sighted in on the vehicle using the mounted missile launcher and screamed ‘rocket’ before firing.
Prior to pulling the trigger, the Marines move forward in their Humvee with the mounted saber weapon system. Once the target is identified, the gunner places the weapons crosshairs on the target. After firing the rocket his only responsibility to ensure a direct hit is to keep the crosshairs on target.
Bullock and Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, fired five non-explosive, Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided command link (TOW) missiles during a live-fire training exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune June 18.
The focus of the training was for Marines new to the unit to get hands on experience with the saber weapon system and apply all their knowledge they’ve received from dry-fire drills and simulator training.
For Bullock and most of the Marines, this was their first time to fire the weapon system during a live-fire training exercise.
“This was my first time getting to ride in the turret and shoot an actual TOW missile,” said Lance Cpl. Steven Bullock, an anti-armor missleman. ““Not only did I gain more experience with this weapon system, but prior to coming here I didn’t know anything about mechanized units and now I have a better understanding of how they work together.”
According to Staff Sgt. Jay N. Baldino, the combined anti-armor team (CAAT) section leader. shooting TOW missiles are expensive. To compensate for the lack of live-fire exercises, the Marines use the mock drills and virtual simulation systems to remain proficient.
“We do a lot of dry fire drills, which is simply performing all the steps leading up to firing the actual missile itself from the saber, without actually firing a missile,” said Baldino, Chicago native. “There is also a saber system trainer that allows the Marines to perform different scenarios on various targets at various distances so the Marines can practice their skillset.”
Baldino said in order for TOW gunners to be successful shoot they must be confident and proficient at the skillset needed to engage and destroy targets. He said the only way to get the Marines to that level of confidence is through experience and the only way to get that experience is to be on the range pulling the trigger themselves and keeping the crosshair on target.
Baldino said, the Marines did a good job on the range and the training was a success. They brought the new Marines out to get experience on shooting the weapon system and see how the TOW missile can ‘bring the evil’ when used to destroy an enemy vehicle.