CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- At a rate of more than 650 rounds per minute, the heavy 7.62 caliber rounds cut through the air and slammed into their targets hundreds of meters from the smoking barrels that propelled them.
Marines and Sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a live-fire shoot with M240B machine guns and M249 squad automatic weapons as part of the CLB’s pre-deployment training exercise here, Dec. 12.
The CLB-EX gives the Marines of CLB-31 a chance to apply their skills in a field environment, preparing them for upcoming deployments as the 31st MEU’s combat logistics element.
“Coming out here to this range and firing these machine guns is something that we only do a couple times per year,” said Pfc. Richard D. Maylor, a field wireman with CLB-31, 31st MEU, and a native of Cleveland, Ohio. “Since we are constantly deploying, we use this time to keep the skills we need behind a machine gun.”
The live-fire training maintains the Marines’ skills in multiple weapons systems used during security operations. CLB-31 can be called upon to provide security for convoys, humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations, mass casualty operations and more.
For the training, the Marines and Sailors operated the M240B from the turrets of high-mobility, multi-purpose wheeled vehicles, commonly called HUMVEEs. Operating crew-served weapons systems atop vehicles simulates vehicle security operations the CLB would typically provide.
Shooters also fired the M249 squad automatic weapon, while lying in the prone position. The M249, commonly referred to as the “SAW,” is used to support the M240B in providing suppressive fire.
“The crew-served weapons help us maintain our security; without them, our Marines would not be able to ensure a successful convoy,” said 2nd Lt. Wesley R. Jackson, the security platoon commander with CLB-31, 31st MEU, and a native of Mountainburg, Ark. “By doing this training, we are able to maintain that basic Marine mentality, by keeping that mindset of security.”
The Marines and Sailors were also provided advanced instruction on the handling of the weapons, prior to the firing. The instructors taught them to check for a properly functioning weapon, complete disassembly and reassembly and immediate action drills in the case of a weapons jam.
“The junior Marines that have not had as much time to handle the weapons were able to get some valuable trigger time and learn some hard-earned lessons from the senior Marines,” said Cpl. Ryan Blythe, a field military police assistant team leader with CLB-31, 31st MEU, and native of Tucson, Ariz.
The training marks the beginning of a month-long series of events designed to prepare the Marines and Sailors for the 31st MEU’s Spring Patrol.
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps' force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.