SHOAL WATER BAY TRAINING AREA, QUEENSLAND, Australia --
Every Marine is a rifleman. Those words are drilled into every Marine’s head starting the day they go to basic training, and throughout the rest of their Marine Corps career.
To ensure that status remains true, more than 260 Marines and Sailors with Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, and Combat Logistics Battalion 31, both with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, participated in a live fire training exercise, July 27.
During the live-fire training, the Marines fired personal and crew-served weapons, including M16A4s, M240B and M249 machine guns, Mk-19 automatic grenade launchers, .50 caliber machine guns, and 30mm main guns of the light armored vehicles that were present.
“The Marines here are firing their weapons and getting a chance to get their battle sight zero,” said 1st Sgt. Kreston L. Monroe, Company G’s 1st Sgt, BLT 2/7, 31st MEU. “We get to practice the basic fundamentals of marksmanship, familiarize ourselves with the weapons, and get some steel on target.”
For almost all of the Marines and Sailors present for the exercise, being in Australia was a new experience for them.
Adding to that was the new experience of the amount of weapons the Marines were able to fire simultaneously while on the range.
“I have never been to a range where we fired so many different weapons at the same time,” said Lance Cpl. Tyler C. Stroschein, a light armored vehicle scout with BLT 2/7, 31st MEU. “It’s been a lot of fun to see and do this.”
The exercise also allowed Marines a chance to fire weapons they would not normally get a chance to use.
“We have attachments from CLB 31,” said Monroe. “Because their main function is logistics, they don’t often get the opportunity to fire these weapons. Every Marine is a basic rifleman, but they don’t always get the chance to fire crew-served weapons, so any chance you have to get a Marine on a weapon is beneficial.”
In addition to making the Marines more proficient with the weapons, this training also helps prepare them for a combat scenario.
“Just being able to shoot our weapons helps us a lot,” said Stroschein. “It gets us used to operating around the vehicle when it fires, and allows you to really get proficient with your weapon. Being able to communicate over the gunfire is really important in a combat situation, and this helps ensure we can do that.”
As more and more rounds were sent downrange, smiles grew on more and more Marines’ faces.
“We are definitely motivated to be out here,” said Monroe. “Any time you get an infantry battalion to a range and get some live fire going, it’s a great day.”
As the day progressed and the firing ceased, it was clear the Marines had a good time.
“This entire exercise has been really cool,” said Stroschein. “To be able to fire all of these things at the same time only made it better.”
TS11 is the largest joint military exercise undertaken by the Australian Defence Force. Around 14,000 U.S. and 9,000 Australian personnel have participated. TS11 provides an opportunity to conduct operations in a combined and joint environment that will increase both countries’ bilateral war-fighting capabilities to respond to crisis and to provide humanitarian assistance.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.