ARABIAN SEA --
Marines in body armor stood aligned with small-arms aboard USS New Orleans here March 28 as a megaphone-wielding staff sergeant shouted training instructions.
"Every Marine is a rifleman, but for an infantryman, it's his primary focus," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Daniels, who leads a section of 60mm mortars in Company L.
In synchronized movements, the Marines raised their service rifles and carbines and fired at silhouetted plastic targets on the tail end of the ship, shooting at distances from 10 to 50 yards.
"We come out (to the ship's flight deck) on a regular basis to conduct these exercises," said Daniels, a 28-year-old Pasco, Wash., native. "We have to ensure our gear is working correctly and the Marines are always prepared."
Lance Cpl. Shane Lee, whose shot groupings were not tight to Daniels' satisfaction, retook his position on the firing line and went again.
Lee, a mortarman with the Camp Pendleton-, Calif., based company, said, "It's important to take extra time to make sure you sustain your marksmanship skills. Sometimes it takes longer to get a proper sight on the target, but after applying the proper fundamentals, I was able to get a good grouping."
Said Daniels, "Our sole purpose for this deployment is to be an effective and capable rifle company, ready to be employed by our command at anytime."
Company L is one of three rifle companies in Battalion Landing Team 3/1, the ground combat element for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The unit is deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force. The group is providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of responsibility.