MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Small in numbers but strong in warfighting tactics, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion hit the ranges of the Combat Center as they progressed through Mojave Viper training Saturday through Wednesday.
Targets on Range 113 were no match for the Recon Snipers of Company B., using M-40A-3 Scout Sniper rifles, as they took shots of up to 1,000 yards.
“Our versatility is what sets us apart from the normal sniper community,” said Sgt. Caleb P. Hohman of Company B.
Unlike like other jobs in the Corps where a Marine only needs to know his job, Recon Marines have to know the job of basic rifleman, communications, first aid, and much more. In addition, Recon Marines receive more training on how to attack and travel from air and sea.
On the second day of training to engage targets, Recon Marines reviewed gun drills on how to set up the weapons and fire them, followed by immediate action procedures for when the weapons may jam, or get two rounds stuck in the chamber of the weapon, for heavy and medium machine gun systems. To test skill, accuracy and speed, teams competed in gun drills from the rear of humvees, and in the dirt, with tripods and mounts.
“It gave our gunners good experience behind the weapons, and aids them to employ the weapon systems properly,” said Sgt. Robert R. Brukardt of 3rd platoon.
Conducting gun drills for engaging targets on Range 108, Recon Marines practiced patrolling techniques and live-fire drills with 5.56mm and 40mm rounds. What normally takes a platoon of basic riflemen to accomplish, a smaller amount of Recon Marines accomplished twice as fast and accurately.
Plastic green targets referred to as green Ivans, pop straight up and down and in some areas move from left to right. When hit, they fall down, and depending on what setting their on, they pop back up a few seconds later.
By foot, Recon progressed through the range until all green Ivan targets were hit with 360 degree security in place, and the entire range was in the hands of friendly forces. With a debriefing on the pros and cons of their performance during the scenario, team leaders prepared for the next range, the next day with a new plan and similar objectives for the same mission to take out all green Ivans facing the Marines.
Starting in the staging area in front of the range, team leaders took their Recon Marines through “contact front, rear, left and right,” to prepare them for the live fire training they were about to undertake, followed by a safety brief reviewing left and right lateral limits of where Marines are allowed to fire on the range, then a walk through to give a tour of the grounds and answer any questions the Marines may have had about targets. With the range safety officer following close behind to ensure no accidents occurred, teams made a final practice run with full gear on and unloaded weapons. When everyone was ready, weapons were loaded and green Ivan targets on the course assaulted.
Sending a few Marines at a time, a few shoulder fired AT-4 rockets, were fired, at armored targets such as old unserviceable tanks, at the end of the day live M203 grenade launcher rounds were fired as well.
Over this four day training evolution, Recon Marines practiced movements, different methods of destroying targets and threats, and worked within their teams and with each other.