Amtrackers take guns to the ground

3 Dec 2003 | Cpl. Ryan S. Scranton

Almost 60 Marines from 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion participated in a week-long M-240G medium machine gun course culminating on Range K-309 here Nov. 21.

The Marines were taught about the employment of the weapons system, as well as its assembly and disassembly by instructors at the 6th Marine Regimental Training Center in preparation for possible future deployments.

"These Marines have to be ready at a moment's notice to be deployed anywhere in the world as riflemen," said Gunnery Sgt. Eric A. Ingerson, chief instructor, Crew Chief's Course, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion.

The Marines were given the opportunity to get away from the mounted gun systems of their 26-ton amphibious assault vehicles and employ the weapons system as infantrymen.

Using the non-mounted version varies greatly from the mounted machine gun, according to Sgt. Tim A Clossin, instructor, 6th Marine Regimental Training Center.

"These Marines are accustomed to being able to fire these weapons with only one man when the weapons are mounted to their vehicles," said the Altoona, Pa., native. "One man can not feasibly carry the weapon, weighing nearly 25 pounds, its tripod, spare barrels and ammunition," said Clossin.

Working as a team requires each Marine to know the other Marines' job, according to Clossin. If one Marine in the team is wounded the other men need to be able to take over the gun.

The nearly 20 teams participating in the training walked away from the course knowing a lot more than they did going in, according to Lance Cpl. Michael J. Wood, tool room noncommissioned officer, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion.

"We learned a lot about the weapon, its parts, what to do if there is a malfunction and how to fix what's wrong," said Wood.

The Baltimore native, said the training was needed to prepare some of the newer troops for missions that didn't involve their amphibious vehicles, recalling a deployment to Puerto Rico, which did not require their vehicles.

"We didn't use our vehicles then so we had to move on foot, it was more infantry type work, than that of an 'Amtracker'," said Wood.

The training was also spawned from more recent deployments to Iraq where some of the Marines from the battalion organized themselves into provisional rifle platoons providing security.

Firing their machine guns at targets nearly 800 meters away during their training here, Clossin said the Marines did exceptionally well once given the opportunity to put their newly acquired skills to the test.

"These Marines came into this training with a lot of motivation," said Clossin. "The fact that they were able to apply everything they have learned here on the range proves that this training was successful."