CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Infantry Marines with Company F fired live ammunition at night here July 26 during raid training that incorporated the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s air and ground combat elements.
With hundreds of bullet tracers streaking the night sky, live ammo underscored the realism and danger that came with firing rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles.
“You actually know how accurate you are with the live rounds. There’s more pressure to make sure you’re doing everything right to hit the target,” said Lance Cpl. Thomas A. Kimbale, 19, from Houston, whose company is part of Battalion Landing Team 2/4, the MEU’s ground combat element.
Helicopters from the MEU’s air-combat element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166 (Reinforced), inserted the infantrymen to the raid site, a live-fire maneuver range set up at an artillery firing area.
To locate and engage targets in the dark, Marines relied on night-vision scopes and goggles, optics that enhance low light but narrow vision and flatten depth perception.
“They don’t have any peripheral vision with the night optics,” said Staff Sgt. Douglas A. Smith, 29, from Salem, Ore. “Marines always have to look to their left and right to see what’s going on next to them.”
Night time adds danger to live fires, but understanding those dangers and conducting raids correctly is what makes the training so valuable, said Cpl. Jonathan L. Jacobs, 24, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Once the raid force was positioned in various locations, machine guns suppressed enemy positions while crossing fire with Marines shooting from closer positions.
“After you do things like this so many times, it builds confidence,” said Jacobs. “It builds confidence in your weapon, confidence in your squad and confidence in your self.”
The night raid was part of the 11th MEU’s second of three training periods at sea before it is scheduled to embark USS Bonhomme Richard, USS Cleveland and USS Rushmore to the Western Pacific.
“We’re all figuring out what we still need to improve, and there’s less things to work on every time we’re in the field. We shouldn’t be making any mistakes by the time we deploy.” said Lance Cpl. Jacob M. Turner, 22, from Tulsa, Okla. “When it actually happens, we’ll land, surprise the enemy, get in, get out and go back to the ship. It will be fast and complicated.”