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Hammer of the battalion: Weapons Company rolls through humvee attack course

US Marine Corps News

10/2/2009 By Lance Cpl. James W. Clark, II MEF

As the Marines drive their humvees down the road on patrol, they suddenly find themselves in the grip of an enemy ambush. Throwing dust and gravel into the air, the Marines pull their four humvees off the dirt road to allow Marines to dismount from each vehicle and sprint forward to attack the enemy positions on foot while machine gunners in the turrets of the armored vehicles lay down suppressive fire.

After several minutes of roaring gunfire and vibrant muzzle flashes from M249 squad automatic weapons and turret-mounted M2 .50-caliber heavy machine guns, the victorious Marines sprint back to the safety of their vehicles and continue on their patrol.

The purpose of this training exercise aboard Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Sept. 13, 2009, was to refine the mounted combat skills of the Marines from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.

According to1st Sgt. Jeffrey Cullen, Weapons Company first sergeant, the Marines of Weapons Company provide the battalion with heavy firepower and mobility, and are training for possible deployments where they may be forced to dismount from their vehicles in order to engage enemy forces.

In addition to reacting to enemy ambushes while on vehicular patrol, the Marines conducted foot patrols to search for possible improvised explosive devices.

“[IEDs] are a large threat in Afghanistan,” said Cullen, a native of Wilmington, Del. “Weapons Company spends a lot of time with motorized vehicles, so we’ve been focusing on route clearance training, so we can better spot IEDs.”

The training facility at Fort A.P. Hill offered Marines terrain that is thick with vegetation and features both steep hills and open plains that present them the opportunity to prepare for combat in adverse conditions.

“This is probably one of the better ranges that we’ve been to, because we’re able to use all the elements – both open and cluttered terrain, which adds a lot to training,” said Staff Sgt. Casey Clark, platoon sergeant with Combined Anti-Armor Team 2.

In addition to preparing Marines for mounted and dismounted attacks, the training gave Marines with Weapons Company’s 81mm mortar platoon time inside humvees so they could work on mounted operations.

“This allows the Marines to focus on the basics, because you can’t do anything unless you’re confident in that,” Clark said.

Mortarmen are capable of supplying the battalion with indirect fire, performing military operations on urban terrain and performing mounted and dismounted operations, said Lance Cpl. Kyle Sutherland, an 81mm mortar section leader.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to do maneuver training, which will allow us to be more proficient while mobile,” Sutherland added. “We take pride in the fact that we know more than just mortars, and training like this shows we can do it, rather than just saying we can.”

Capable of being highly mobile and able to supply heavy firepower both mounted and on foot, as well as providing indirect fire through the use of mortars, the Marines of Weapons Company are often referred to as the hammer of the battalion.

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