CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Eleventh Marine Expeditionary Unit members conducted intermediate combat rifle marksmanship here Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and at one point trained with newly issued gas masks.
The Marines, wearing Kevlar helmets and body armor and armed with either the M16-A4 service rifle or the carbine version of the M16, the M4, fired Table 3 of the Marine Corps' Combat Marksmanship Program.
"It was awesome training. The weather was great, and it was great to get behind the weapon again," said Pfc. Vanessa B. Garcia, a field radio operator from Arlington, Texas. "I'm ready to come back to the range any time and work on my marksmanship skills for the future."
The Marine Corps' primary mission is to locate, close with, and destroy our enemies by fire and maneuver, said Staff Sgt. Eric Schleher, the unit's chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense chief.
Schleher also serves as the unit's marksmanship staff noncommissioned officer.
"Every Marine is a rifleman," said Schleher, a native of Ocala, Fla. "If we don't train to that standard, then it's not a true statement."
The Corps' combat rifle program consists of four tables: fundamental, basic combat, intermediate combat and advanced combat. During Table 3, the Marines donned their recently issued M50 field protective masks, and following a gas-chamber exercise Nov. 18 in which the unit's members learned to employ their masks, the Marine's sighted in on targets 36 yards away.
"The old gas mask felt more constricted compared to the new," said Cpl. Tom Fowler, 26, the unit's administrative noncommissioned officer in charge and a Sigourney, Iowa, native. "With the new mask, I feel like if I actually had to shoot with it in a real-life situation, I can see what I have to hit."