RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, Republic of Korea -- Moving thousands of pounds of supplies and gear in 7-ton trucks from one point to the other is no small task. With so many variables to plan for, an improvised explosive device or enemy attack could quickly turn the road into a chaotic situation.
To become proficient in neutralizing those who would sabotage combat service support vehicles on the road, Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Combat Logistics Battalion 31 engaged in a live-fire convoy training exercise here, March 17.
Because a downed vehicle or hostile enemy fire can quickly turn the tide against mission success, everyone must know what to do when the time comes to defend the convoy, said 1st Lt. Laura J. Perazzola, the convoy commander.
“This training is really about everyone getting their (standard operating procedures) down so that when an attack does occur in real life, it’s second nature for the Marines and sailors to take immediate action so they can overcome any enemy situation,” Perazzola said.
For the first element of the training, the Marines and sailors fired out of the sides of the moving trucks with service rifles and M-249 Squad Automatic Weapons at targets representing enemy infantry units and vehicles.
After engaging enemy snipers on their way to the next objective, the convoy’s front vehicle became disabled by means of a simulated IED. The convoy opened up, firing on the enemy targets with crew-served weapons.
Although keeping control of his M2 .50 caliber machine gun was a challenge, the power of the weapon could be seen affecting the targets from the convoy, said Lance Cpl. James Graves, a military policeman with the CLB.
“That’s a mean piece of machine right there,” Graves said, referring to the weapon. “It’s loud; it gets your adrenaline going. It makes you feel like a beast.”
While the convoy continued to fire on the enemy’s position, the service members evacuated the downed vehicle’s personnel by stretcher, calling in a casualty evacuation by radio. Moments later, a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (Reinforced), the MEU’s aviation combat element, arrived to carry the wounded to safety.
Linking together the different live-fire ranges into one experience, and actually firing live-rounds in motion and evacuating casualties by helicopter, served only to increase the realism of the training evolution.
“Not a lot of units actually get to go out there and do movements with vehicles and firing,” Graves explained. “It’s a good experience to be one of the few who get to go out there and shoot and move at the same time, because that’s how it’d be done over in Iraq.”
The 31st MEU is currently deployed to the Republic of Korea to conduct pre-deployment training and participate in Exercise Foal Eagle 2007 to improve joint readiness and interoperability between U.S. and ROK military forces.