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Designated Marksmen put Djibouti in crosshairs ;

By Sgt. Bradly Shaver | | August 29, 2003

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Marines and Designated Marksmen (DM) with Task Force Rawhide participated in a live-fire training exercise here, Aug. 26, honing their skills to better support Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa's mission.

The DMs recently joined CJTF-HOA as part of Task Force Rawhide whose task is to provide security for Camp Lemonier personnel here supporting the mission of detecting, disrupting and defeating transnational terrorism in the East African region.

"It's critical that we have the DMs with us; it's not only to (deter) the enemy, but they are a key element of our success in the (Horn of Africa)," said Marine 1st Lt. James Moran, executive officer of Task Force Rawhide.

Having Designated Marksmen in the Horn of Africa is important because it gives Camp Lemonier a precision fire capability it would otherwise not have.

Carrying M14s, DMs are highly qualified in marksmanship and observation, providing precision shots on identified targets, according to Marine Cpl. Pawel Pazgan, DM team leader with Rawhide.

One well-aimed shot is considered to be the deadliest force on the battlefield, according to said Marine Lance Cpl. Hans Allen, DM with Rawhide.

"As designated marksmen, we are always in support of security missions wherever needed," said Pazgan. "We provide security inside and outside of Camp Lemonier. We are the first to take out a threat if an advance is made near the perimeter."

"It's important that we get our DM Marines out to the firing range before we put them on post," Moran said. "You can never live-fire enough with Marines, it's a valuable asset to them. In the future we'll have two live-fire training exercises each week."

During the live-fire, the DMs zeroed their scopes and fired on a point-target at ranges from 100-300 yards away.

Pazgan said they needed to get their rifle sight settings correct because of the drastic change in heat and elevation here. For every 20-degree change in temperature, there is a one-inch difference in elevation on the scopes.

"After zeroing my M14 and scope, I can now hit a small point target three times from 100 yards away," Allen said. "If I am called to fire my weapon, I could take someone out in a short amount of time, even in a hostage situation."

Since replacing Alpha 1/24 at the beginning of this month, DMs from Task Force Rawhide have been conducting weekly live-fire training exercises to help provide security for Camp Lemonier.

"The people of Camp Lemonier sleep comfortable at night knowing that highly skilled Marines stand ready to impose their will," said Moran.

Training on the range gives Task Force Rawhide an elevated degree of vigilance and refines their basic marksmanship skills.

"We've been out here to the range a few times before, and there is always a lot of great training opportunities here," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Denis O'Sullivan, company gunnery sergeant.

O'Sullivan was one of many Marines able to train with the M14 while the DMs fired on the range.

"It's a great experience to be here learning new things," he said. "I believe the DMs will be a great asset to Rawhide. They will help us fulfill our primary mission, security."


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