CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait --
Firing the AT-4 anti-tank weapon is like getting a shot of pure adrenaline and getting knocked on the side of the head.
But it was the best knock on the head he’s ever received, said Lance Cpl. Tyler S. Carroll, a Sandy, Utah native, describing how he felt after firing his first live anti-tank weapon during his unit’s desert sustainment training at the Udairi Range Complex here this week.
For more than a week, the Marines of Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Pendleton, Calif. have been fanned out across various ranges sharpening their war-fighting skills with static weapons shoots and live-fire exercises.
“It’s basic infantry, straight assault tactics. It’s our bread and butter,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua T. Gutierrez, 4th Platoon sergeant, Company C. Marines train using cover and concealment tactics and techniques all the time because they are universal. These tactics will work whether in a jungle, inside buildings, fallen logs or a dirt pile, he said. “They are also perishable skills.”
According to 1stLt. Clinton K. Hall, 1st Platoon Commander, Company C, from Winnemucca, Nev., small unit leadership was the main focus of this training, so squad leaders served as the primary instructors.
The squad leaders focused on teaching their Marines how to move effectively under cover fire, how to employ their weapons effectively and how to react to enemy contact at close and at long range, said Gutierrez. This was done on a range designed to simulate an urban combat environment littered with bombed out buildings, bullet-riddled vehicles and pop-up targets. The weapons used included the M16A4 and M4 Service Rifles, M203 Grenade Launcher, Squad Automatic Weapon, training fragmentation grenades and the AT-4.
Throughout the exercise, the squad leaders put their Marines to the test and kept their eyes on the weapons for safety reasons. They instructed and challenged the decisions and actions of their Marines and corrected them on the spot. They also added artificial stress by changing the dynamics of the scenario to see how their Marines would react.
“You’ve been shot in the right arm and you’re down,” one instructor yelled at a Marine. When the Marine started yelling for help, a corpsman came over to apply medical aid. This prompted some members of the squad to drag the injured Marine to safety. “Why aren’t you providing security!” yelled a squad leader to a hesitant Marine. The rifleman quickly complied.
According to Carroll, a rifleman with 4th Plattoon, Company C, BLT 1/5, the training was the best he’s ever had. “It felt very realistic and really made us think.”
Carroll said his fire team’s scenario was to take out an enemy sniper who was holed up in an unknown location. “My job was to maneuver my way onto the roof of a building and destroy an enemy vehicle to create a chaotic environment to allow my team to advance in the direction of the sniper.”
His team members provided cover for him as he bounded from vehicle to vehicle and then onto the roof of a building.
From up high, Carroll had a clear shot. “I thought to myself, ‘I better not miss because my team is depending on me,” he said. Carroll steadied himself, aimed in, warned those behind him to stay clear of the back-blast area and then let the missile fly. In a flash, the enemy vehicle exploded into a ball of flames and smoke. “My shot went right through the door,” said Carroll. “It was awesome. The AT-4 tracer trainer doesn’t come close to the real thing,” said Carroll.
Firing the AT-4 was the highlight of his week, said Carroll. It made the days spent in the desert training under freezing temperatures seem like a cold and distant memory.
***For more information on the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit visit their website athttp://www.usmc.mil/11thmeu.