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2nd Battalion, 10th Marines

In January 2000 Second Battalion, Tenth Marines, more commonly referred to as the "Pathfinder Battalion," was on deck at 29 Palms, CA. The fundamental goal during the battalion's six-week deployment was to return to Camp Lejeune better trained, and better prepared for combat.

The Marines of 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines, shower the enemy with a rain of steel death. The pride the Marines have in being a member of the "second to none" Battalion is clearly evident in the way they have performed during deployments. Living in a strenuous environment, eating luke warm chow, and taking a "sand bath" on a daily basis has not deterred these warriors in the least. The TTECG (Tactical Training Exercise Control Group) controllers more commonly referred to as the "Coyotes" stated openly that the "Pathfinder Battalion" was the best artillery battalion they had seen at the Combined Arms Exercise [CAX] in well over three years. Not only were fires responsive, but they were executed with precision.

CAX 4-00 was more difficult than CAX 3-00 in that the Battalion was supporting two maneuver battalions in two separate corridors. Timely movement of the battalion is essential in supporting such an operation. To effectively do this 2nd Battalion used Heavy Lift Helicopters (CH-53E), which requires an inordinate amount of planning, coordination and skill.

The Survey, Meteorological, and Radar sections of the 2d Battalion, 10th Marines are structured under the Operations Platoon of the Battalion Headquarters. The Survey section is organic to the battalion; the Radar and Meteorological (Met) sections are attachments to the battalion from the 10th Marines Regimental Headquarters.

The Survey section is primarily tasked to perform position area surveys. In general terms, we provide orienting and positioning data for the firing units, along with individual piece data for each howitzer. Additional missions include the establishment of alternate firing positions, declination stations, meteorological sites, radar sites, surveyed observation posts, surveyed mortar positions, and other missions as required increasing the accuracy and precision of artillery fires. The survey section is currently operating in two teams. Each team is capable of performing all the aforementioned missions with the equipment carried in their vehicle. This equipment includes the AN/USQ-70 (PADS), the MSGR 4000 GPS-S, and conventional assets as required (T-2E Theodolite, DI-3000 Distomat, M2A2 Aiming Circle).

The Meteorological section is primarily tasked to provide current weather information, which is used to determine corrections to the ballistic trajectories of the artillery fires. In other words, they provide the information necessary for the Fire Direction Center to apply "Kentucky Windage" to the howitzers. Other missions that can be performed by the Met section include the determination of Limited Surface Observations (LSO) and Air Weather Service (AWS) mets, which are used by intelligence personnel and higher echelon meteorological sections to forecast weather for planning of future operations. They also have the capability of providing Target Acquisition Mets to the Radar section and Fallout Mets to the NBC section. The Met section can operate as an electronic team (electronic tracking of pilot balloons) or as a visual team (visual tracking of pilot balloons); in fact, throughout much of the CAX exercises, the section operates both teams simultaneously. The section operates the AN/TMQ-41 (MMS).

The Radar section is primarily tasked to locate enemy artillery, rocket, and mortar units. The information provided by this section is used to accurately target and engage enemy indirect fire weapon systems; it is one of the greatest sources of targeting information on the battlefield. A secondary mission of the Radar section is to act as an observer for firing units. In this "Friendly" mode, the radar can accurately report impact locations of friendly fires, which allows for more accurate target adjustments. The radar can be used to adjust fires as well as observe registration fires of friendly artillery weapons.

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