CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- One of the missions of a Marine rifle squad is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver - and they do so brilliantly. This brilliance is accomplished by focusing on the basics.
Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted fire and maneuver training here, July 23, in order to strengthen their roots in small unit tactics.
“This training reinforces the basic fire and maneuver skills we’re taught from the beginning,” said Sgt. Joshua R. Garcia, a squad leader with BLT 2/1 and native of Victorville, Calif. “Without the basics, the Marines can’t proceed to the advanced (level of combat skills).”
The basic knowledge of fire and maneuver is taught at the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry and builds the foundation for more advanced training. Reinforcing infantry fundamentals to make sure every Marine reaches a similar level of proficiency will prevent problems in more advanced training, according to Lance Cpl. Christopher L. James, a fire team leader with BLT 2/1 and a native of Joliet, Ill.
“Conducting this basic training has allowed us to pin-point the errors that need to be corrected,” said James. “The main problems we ran into and corrected were in communication, distance of targets, and ammo expenditure.”
To initiate the training, the Marines conducted a short patrol, similar to one conducted in a hostile environment. Pop-up targets were used to signal an enemy ambush, springing the Marines to action.
“The first few seconds when you’re finding cover, it kind of gives you a rush,” said James. “Without this training, we would not be able to collect ourselves and do what needs to be done.”
During the beginning of the ambush, Marines communicate the direction of the ambush, before executing maneuvers towards the enemy force. The Marines use the consistent fire and coordinated movement to close the gap between them and the enemy.
The squad automatics weapon gunners provide a consistent barrage of 5.56mm rounds to cover friendly movements, while riflemen use precision fire to further suppress the enemy attack.
“The end state is making sure the enemy is gone and our Marines are still alive,” said Garcia.
The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness for the Asia-Pacific and the only continuously forward deployed MEU.