Recon Marines practice fundamentals, train as riflemen
By Cpl. Mark W. Stroud
| Marine Corps Installations Pacific | March 28, 2013
CAMP SCHWAB --
“This is finding brilliance in the basics,” said Sgt. Matthew J. Foglesong, a reconnaissance man and team leader with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. “We are still infantrymen at the end of the day, and this is what we do and who we are.”
Marines with 3rd Recon Bn., 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, exercised their fundamentals as riflemen March 25 at Range 10 near Camp Schwab during weapons familiarization and sustainment training with the M27 infantry automatic rifle, M249 squad automatic weapon and M240B medium machine gun.
The training, which included maintenance and stationary and moving live-fire, took place as part of weapons training scheduled for March 18 to April 10.
“The Marines need to be familiar with any weapon they might use as a member of a patrol,” said Capt. Brian J. Lusczynski, a platoon commander with the battalion. “We went from short to medium to long-range firing tables and gave the Marines a chance to do immediate and remedial action drills, along with reloads and using all the different reticle and sight patterns available to them.”
Immediate and remedial action drills train the Marines to respond instinctively to firing stoppages or weapons malfunctions to get their weapons back into the fight.
“Anytime you pull the trigger, you are bettering yourself, and it increases your chances of succeeding in combat,” said Lance Cpl. Brian D. Doca, a reconnaissance man with the battalion.
The Marines are also scheduled to train with service and sniper rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers, claymore mines and fragmentation grenades during the three-week evolution.
“You never know where you are going to end up, especially in this job,” said Foglesong. “The weapon systems and the way they are going to be employed are different for every operating environment, so the Marines have to be familiar with everything we have.”
The more experienced Marines assumed a mentorship role during the training and passed on their knowledge on a broad range of engagement scenarios.
“We had the team leaders who have been on combat deployments running the weapons stations,” said Lusczynski. “We covered both phases of engagement with the enemy. The close-range tables used the reflex sites on top of the (squad day optic) or the (rifle combat optic). On the long-range, unknown-distance targets, the Marines used the reticle patterns on their SDO, (machine gun day optic) or RCO to let them get familiar with the bullet drop compensator and ranging targets using only the (weapons’ optics).”
The Marines determined the approximate range of targets at varying distances by comparing known size values of their target, such as the average width of a man’s shoulders, to reference points on their combat optics. Spotters worked with the shooters to make fine adjustments to their point of aim and achieve hits on target.
“We have many targets downrange and don’t tell the Marines what range they are at so they have to use their (optics),” said Lusczynski. “Working with the spotter gets them familiar with the rhythm and communication as they shoot and spot rounds.”
The reconnaissance teams also discussed the tactics of employing each weapon system for maximum effectiveness, including adjusting fire-team tactics to take advantage of the new IAR.
“The IAR is going to allow much faster fire-team movement,” said Foglesong. “We can really push the pace of the battle to the point where the enemy is not going to be able to keep up.”
The concept of an automatic rifle to supplement the firepower of small units is not new to the Marine Corps, but dates back to World War II and the M1918 Browning automatic rifle, according to Foglesong.
“The bringing back of the automatic rifle represents a big shift in how the Marine Corps operates,” said Foglesong. “For the classes I teach on the IAR, I have dug into not only what the Marine Corps offers in the current technical manuals, but also into World War II and how the BAR was used back then.”
The training is scheduled to culminate in live-fire and maneuver scenarios, where the Marines will apply what they have learned to simulated combat situations.
“At the end of the day, the training is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Lusczynski. “We will continue to train until we are doing the live-fire and maneuver drills as the capstone event.”