USS DENVER (LPD9), AT SEA --
Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit took a crash course in close air support, Nov. 4-9.
Twelve Marines with 5th Air Naval Gun Liaison Company, 31st MEU, cross-decked from the USS Essex (LHD2) to the USS Denver (LPD9) to teach Marines the basics of close air support, and to help them get familiar with talking to pilots.
“Our goal is to train these Marines, so they become comfortable with the process of calling for CAS,” said Sgt. Jerry Parramore, Team Leader for Fire Control Team 10, 5th ANGLICO. “They will also know what to say and how to say it, which will help pilots accomplish their mission as well as save lives.”
During the six-day-course, students brushed up on map reading and creating CAS briefs for pilots. Marines also learned about the capabilities of the infrared laser designator 1000.
“I have been in other CAS classes and still learned a lot from this one,” said Sgt. Richard Kennedy, a squad leader with 2nd Platoon, Co. A, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion 7th Marines, 31st MEU. “I think it was beneficial to my junior Marines and myself; learning how to properly communicate with the pilots.”
Once they mastered their techniques in the classroom, students ran through training scenarios with pilots.
During the practical application portion, Marines were told there was an enemy not far from ship and they had to identify its coordinates in comparison to their location. Then, they had to relay the information to pilots.
“Despite the brevity of the course, knowing how the pilot communicates with the Marine on the ground will boost their confidence if they are ever put in the situation that requires them to call for air support,” Parramore added. “If they want to become qualified in this field, they can go to a joint fires observer course or a joint terminal attack controller course.”
The Marines with the 31st MEU continue to train and remain prepared for any situation.