The sound of M1A1 Abrams tanks resonated throughout the base, announcing their presence as the Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division conducted Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation, “Iron Blitz,” Feb. 19-26, 2016.
The MCCRE consisted of multiple scenarios, including a tactical road march, breaching and clearing a mock village, traversing the New River with the aid of bridges from 8th Engineer Support Battalion and landing craft utilities from the Navy, and a tank platoon gunnery range for qualification.
This training helped instill the battalion’s mission to close with and destroy the enemy using armor-protected firepower, shock effect, maneuver, and to provide precision direct fires against enemy armor, fighting vehicles, troops and hardened positions.
Iron Blitz involved a vast array of units from across the division: Reconnaissance, infantry, engineering and artillery units joined 2nd Tank Bn. in the exercise.
“The ability to conduct this training with all these other units is great,” said Lt. Col. Robert Bodisch, commanding officer of 2nd Tank Bn., 2nd Marine Division. “Having lost two tank companies recently has really put some pressure on us, but it feels good knowing that we can still accomplish our mission while doing more with less.”
The units became more comfortable with working alongside one another during the course of the exercise, and each Marine, from the individual level to the battalion level, played their respective parts well to accomplish the mission in the most coordinated way possible, Bodisch said.
“2nd Tank Battalion is 2nd Marine Division’s ace in the hole because we are a unique battalion within the division,” said Capt. Matthew Rohlfing, operations officer for 2nd Tank Battalion. “There is something a tank brings to the battlefield that can’t be replicated by any other ground combat element. We are the big guns and we are here to stay.”
The battalion performs the MCCRE every two years, but never before have so many units come to work in conjunction with one another and be so successful working as a well-oiled machine, accomplishing the mission, and above all, meeting any challenge the Marine Corps way – head first.