ABOARD USS BATAAN -- Marines from Company E, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, participated in an M-240G medium machine gun range on the flight deck, here, March 12.
Fourteen troops from the company's Weapons Platoon took part in the live-fire training, designed to give the unit's machine-gunners valuable trigger time with their primary weapon system.
The shoot focused on improving the Marines' skills in three key areas: coordination of fire, economy and conservation of ammunition, and overall marksmanship.
During the training, the troops operated in two-man machinegun teams, with two teams operating at a time on the firing line. A squad leader directed the teams' fire, giving the Marines an opportunity to rehearse suppressive fire coordination.
In addition to helping improve these fundamentals, the shoot gave the gunners a chance to increase their familiarization with the weapon itself.
The complex nature of the machinegun made the time the gunners spent behind the sights of their weapons time well spent, said 2nd Lt. Kevin M. Murphy, Weapons Platoon commander, Co. E, BLT 2/2.
"Changing barrels, directing fire, maintaining good round counts - these are all perishable skills that the Marines need to be ready to perform," he said.
Having solid machine gunners in a weapons platoon is crucial to the effectiveness of the rifle platoons that make up the rest of a standard infantry company, said Cpl. Dick M. Martin, a squad leader from Weapons Platoon, Co. E.
"We have an important role," added the Milan, Mich., native. "We're responsible for supporting the whole company with suppressive fire, not just a squad or a platoon."
While the Marines have had ample opportunity to improve their rifle skills with live-fire and weapons handling training here, finding a way to get them solid practice with the machine guns has not been an easy task, said Murphy.
"The biggest challenge is being creative with the training," he said. "It's tough to add in realistic difficulties with the constraints we have on our traverse and elevation of fire."
Despite the challenges of simulating real-world shooting conditions, the training was effective not only in maintaining the Marines' shooting skills but also in giving them a welcome break from their daily routines here, said Martin.
"[This training] breaks the cycle of classroom instruction and rifle drills," he explained. "It's good to get my Marines back into their (military occupational specialty)."
"It was a lot of fun," agreed Murphy. "For our gunners it was a great change of pace."
Company E was not the only unit to give its machine-gunners trigger time here recently; Company G conducted a similar training event March 1.
Both companies plan to put their gunners back on the firing line in the near future, whether on ship or ashore during MEU operations.
The 26th MEU is the landing force for the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group, which departed on its current routine, scheduled deployment Jan. 6.
In addition to BLT 2/2, the MEU is comprised of its Command Element; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-264 (Reinforced); and Combat Logistics Battalion-26.
For more on the MEU, including news, videos and contact information, please visit www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.