Marines

Stone Bay deployment; WTBN faces new millennium of change

8 Nov 2000 | Sgt. Arthur Stone

Marines training at the Stone Bay training area witnessed the tides of change Oct. 27 with the unveiling of a new electronic scoring system being readied for implementation on the ranges here.

The system, called LOMAH (location of miss and hit), has long been in use by the Army in one form or another, but until now was never configured for the Marine Corps' known distance (KD) rifle qualification course, according to Allen Montgomery, a technical consultant with SIUS Target Systems in Columbia, S.C. 
Montgomery, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Army Airborne, set up the prototype of the LOMAH system on Alpha Range at Stone Bay to demonstrate its capabilities to the Marines of Camp Lejeune.  He said that the system would withstand weather conditions ranging from zero degrees to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, and submersion in up to five inches of water.  The system is also insect and rodent proof.

The system records shots on any target on the line and can determine if a shooter fired on the wrong target, according to Montgomery of Knoxville, Tenn. 

The system also shows where shots that totally missed the target were located, in addition to suggested windage and elevation adjustments.  These specifications can be modified to accommodate the sighting systems of any small-arms weapon in the Marine Corps' arsenal.

The system can also be programmed to display any shape and size of target and can be zoomed in to show tightly-grouped shots, such as those commonly seen during rapid fire.  A shooter can also print out a copy of the shot group.

While Montgomery and his son, Allen Montgomery Jr., manned the system's computer control systems, Phoenix native, SSgt. Wally Johnston, Marksmanship Training Unit, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, fired several shots at targets down range to demonstrate the system's ability to plot and record shots.  The system detected the passage of all fired projectiles past the monitor system at the target, then plotted and scored each shot.

Lt. Col. Carl Shelton Jr., commanding officer, WTBN, came up with the initiative for phasing in the LOMAH system, which he says he feels will improve Marines' marksmanship abilities in the near future and save money for the Marine Corps over the long term.  The LOMAH system will be phased in over the next few years if everything goes as planned.

Plans are underway to have the system compatible with 'smart card' technology or to use a live database feed that will automatically enter a shooter's score into the unit diary system for promotions and training purposes.  Shelton cited several contributing factors in pushing the LOMAH system into use in the Marine Corps.

"This electronic scoring and marking system takes about half the time to shoot the KD course," said Shelton. "This is one of our research and development things we're working on.  It may be a few years until you see it, but we have to go this way.  We can't keep doing business the way we've been doing it."

"My intent is to reduce the amount of time Marines are spending on work details to make the KD course of fire work," Shelton added.  "An inordinate amount of time is being spent on making targets, pulling targets in the butts, care and maintenance of target carriages, etc.  We are not spending enough time on marksmanship.  Plus, we are hemorrhaging from the cost of doing business on the rifle range the same way we did it during the 1950s and 60s.  We have got to leverage available technology that makes marksmanship qualification fast, efficient and wastes less time for Marines, but retains the same amount of rigor Marine marksmanship is renown for." 

Shelton said they are aggressively looking for better ways of doing the business of marksmanship in the Marine Corps.  The Commandant has signaled his desires to make Marines even more distinguishable around the world with an upgrade of the basic uniform, martial arts and other initiatives.  Shelton's goal is to sharpen Marine marksmanship skills across the board to the degree that no one goes unqualified on the annual KD Course.  They have even begun initiatives and award incentives to raise the "bar" by making a sharpshooter score the lowest possible qualification.   However, to better serve the Marines, Shelton said he feels they need a system that will relieve them from all the mundane tasking outside of actually firing the KD Course. 

According to Shelton, the LOMAH system that has been utilized by the Army for the past 10 years would be extremely valuable if procured for the following reasons:

* Eliminates Butts Service

* No more target pullers

* No more pit NCO

* No more SNCO/Officer verifiers

* No butt/pit facilities

* With no personnel down range near the impact area, bullet trap can be installed in order to reduce and eliminate the amount of lead deposited in the soil and water
Increases Speed

* Tower control method can be used to control the entire firing line

* Individual control method can be used to let a Marine fire each stage of fire without commands from the tower 

* A Marine would have the ability to simply advance to each stage of fire and finish the KD course

* Instant scoring the second a round is fired, instead of waiting for butts to spot, plot and run targets up and down 

* Instant tally means individual total scores are known the moment after the last shot is fired from the 500-yard slow fire stage 

* Rapid diary entry occurs because all scores are fed into Weapons Training Battalion central computer instead of being tallied and posted manually by stats section of WTBN

* Smart card configured means that once a Marine completes the KD course, a swipe of his smart card will automatically post his score to his training file stored on the card 

Other Enhancements realized with LOMAH

* Reduce KD firing evolution because the Marine remains stationary and engage targets at the 200, 300, and 500-yard lines 

* By reducing movement, time is saved

* No movement down range increases safety for Marines and reduces the amount of Marines needed to supervise and run the range

* Stationary firing positions allows the Marine to focus on marksmanship, data and target engagement and reduces the idle waiting time for all moving elements

* Stationary control tower means less time, money and effort to move it each and every relay 

* A fixed communications system would be more reliable, affordable and simple to fix in a stationary control tower

* Inclement weather shooting means the KD Course can be completed without much interference for the individual Marines or degradation of the targets because the Marines are under a covered over-hang and the targets are waterproofed

* Scoring accuracy is achieved because there is no guessing about where a round landed because the round is digitally tracked and triangulated

* No misses or cross shots recorded ricochet

* Manpower reductions are realized across the entire Battalion organization:

* Fleet Assistance Program

* Temporary Additional Duty

* Permanent personnel

* Line safety personnel reduced

For more information on the LOMAH system, call SIUS Target Systems at 803-699-1800 or email them at siustgtsys@aol.com.