Photo Information

Pfc. John E. Hoban, 20, from Los Angeles, second in his team's stack, prepares to clear a building during a live fire grenade exercise here March 26. During the exercise Marines with Company E, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, cleared half a building using hand grenades and the other half with rifle fire. This was the first time the Marines conducted this type of live fire exercise during their workups for their deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit later this year. The live fire exercises were part of a month-long exercise the Marines are conducting away from Camp Pendleton, their home station.

Photo by Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac

Live ammo keeps Marines more alert

26 Mar 2009 | Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, conducted urban training here March 25-26, their first live-fire exercises since joining the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in January.

With much of the MEU involved in an air-ground task force exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett and other installations around the state, Marines with Company E practiced close-quarters shooting scenarios.

Their previous exercises included blank-firing ammunition.

The MEU, an air-ground task force made up of 2,200 Marines and sailors, is preparing for a deployment later this year

“As we’re coming closer to the deployment, the live rounds really help Marines to start getting into the combat mindset,” said Lance Cpl. James M. Shaughnessy, 22, from Kansas City, Mo.

During each simulation, four-man teams ran toward concrete houses, determined friendly occupants and eliminated enemies.

“Wherever we go, insurgents these days will integrate into the local populace,” said Shaughnessy. “We’ll need to differentiate quickly to find our targets.”

Shooting live ammunition kept the Marines more aware of their weapons, said Pfc. Shawn J. Hudson, a 20-year-old from Simi Valley, Calif.

“With live rounds, everyone knows the danger; everyone pays more attention to what’s going on,” said Hudson.

Advisors stayed with the fire teams through rooms and hallways making sure movements were done right.

“It’s easy for a (private first class) to not find a job when we’re doing something with an entire platoon or the company,” said Staff Sgt. Eliazar Andrade, 27, from Hillsboro, Ore. “This helps the Marines to identify that every man has a job no matter what.”

When live ammunition is incorporated, said Andrade, Marines are more motivated to do everything right.

“The reality of what they’re preparing for sets in,” he said. “When they’re using live rounds like this, they’re not really afraid of each other or what might happen. These are the guys it’s going to come down to when we’re called to fight.”

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Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit