TERNATE, Republic of the Philippines --
The stock of the rifle digs into the Marine’s shoulder as the 5.56mm round tears through the target downrange. Leaning into the recoil, the Philippine Marine, standing beside his U.S. Marine counterpart, resets his sights and prepares for another squeeze of the trigger.
Marines and Sailors with Company B., Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a combat marksmanship program alongside Philippine Marines here, April 8.
“Today we were able to come out here and work with the Philippine military and show one another tactics when firing in close quarters,” said Cpl. Randall T. Carey, an assault section leader with Company B., BLT 1/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Fort Collins, Colo. “The CMP was created to improve and test the Marines capabilities when firing a short distance.”
Lining up 20 Marines at a time, the training consisted of four firing lines, testing the Marines ability to use their weapons at multiple close distances. The firing patterns included head shots, controlled pairs, hammer pairs, failure drills and speed reloads. A controlled pair and a hammer pair are a series of two shots back to back, with the controlled pair being a slower and more concentrated pair while the hammer pair is faster and consumes less time. The failure drill is a three shot series, sending two rounds to the chest and one to the head. A speed reload is a test of the Marines ability to change out magazines quickly before re-engaging the target.
“I was really surprised to see how well the Philippine Marines were able to shoot - you could tell they are highly trained and take it seriously,” said Lance Cpl. Mitchell W. McNeil, a rifleman with Company B., BLT 1/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Wetstone, Ariz. “These Philippine Marines have seen a lot of combat and by watching them, I was able to pick up on the techniques they acquired throughout their career.”
Starting out at the 25-yard line, the Marines fired a series of three head shots and two controlled pairs. Moving to the 15-yard line, the Marines then fired two head shots, two controlled pairs and three hammer pairs. They then stepped to the 10-yard line where they fired two head shots, two hammer pairs and two failure drills. Feeling like there were almost on top of the target at the 5-yard line, the Marines fired two head shots, two hammer pairs, three failure drills and a speed reload.
After the drill was complete, the scores are tallied up and announced. The results were nearly identical - the Philippine Marines averaged 92 out of 100 and the U.S. Marines averaged 94 out of 100.
“One thing that I noticed right off the bat is that the Philippine Marines were almost perfectly on par with our Marines,” said Sgt. Ben D. Downing, the police sergeant with Company B., BLT 1/5, 31st, MEU, and a native of Eugene, Ore. “In a real world situation, I would have no problem trusting the Philippine Marines in combat.”
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.