MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Throughout military history, superior fire support has often made the difference between who wins or loses a battle.
In keeping with that tradition, Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit fired round after round of high explosive shells into the impact area aboard Camp Lejeune during a Fire Support Interoperability live-fire training exercise Feb. 26-Mar. 2.
Fire support assets organic to the MEU, such as 155 mm howitzers, 81 mm mortars and CH-46E Sea Knights helicopters, blasted ranges aboard the base in an effort to coordinate fires between ground, air, and naval guns.
The USS PORTER and U.S. Air Force combat aircraft from Langley Air Force Base added more fire power to the mix, and a better training opportunity for all involved.
The five-day training exercise focused on the integration and coordination of the multiple supporting arms assets, agencies and platforms within the MEU.
“We ironed out the communication kinks which increased our capabilities for a timely response of fire support and maneuvers,” said Capt. Joseph D. Arico, the MEU’s Fire Support Officer, who was in charge of the exercise.
While planning and coordination were key elements of the FSIOP, it was the Marines in the field who ensured the exercise ran smoothly.
“All the Marines were outstanding,” said Staff Sgt. Michael A. McQueen, a native of Newburgh, N.Y. and the platoon sergeant for Bravo Battery. “Not only were we doing artillery fire, but at the same time we were conducting mass casualty drills and other training.”
McQueen added that the coordination between the big guns on the ground and air fires was an important aspect of the training that prepared his Marines for future fights.
“We sometimes have that situation where we have to call for fires ourselves and if we know how to coordinate fires with the air assets, then we have added an important capability,” said the seasoned artilleryman, McQueen. “We were able to get a lot of training in those four days.”
The 22nd MEU Command Element, Battalion Landing Team 3/8, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (REIN) and Combat Logistics Battalion 22 are scheduled to deploy with the USS KEARSARGE Expeditionary Strike Group later this year.
For More information about the 22nd MEU and its upcoming events, visit their website at www.22meu.usmc.mil.