CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Approximately 300 entry-level infantry Marines participated in a Company Integration Exercise at Range 408, here, Sept. 25.
The event culminated a 52-day training course for the Marines of Alpha Company, Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-West, where instructors evaluated students on basic-infantry skills in a combined arms exercise before they graduate from ITB and proceed to their designated units.
Range 408 shows the students the supporting arms they’ll employ in a combat environment and how to properly engage enemies using assets like mortars, machine guns, assaultmen, and riflemen envelop enemy targets, said Sgt. Jason Harris, an Alpha Company combat instructor.
The range includes and implements the different infantry occupational specialties at the company level. Medium/light machine guns and mortars suppress the enemy first, providing the supporting fire for a squad size element of riflemen and assaultmen to attack the enemies’ position.
“This particular range is a smaller version of a [heavy, medium, and light weapons engagement], where we open up with our 60mm mortars, prepping those targets by applying as much destruction as possible,” said Harris.
According to Harris, clearing a path with mortar fire allows the medium and smaller combat elements to be effectively implemented on the battlefield.
“Next we engage targets with our light machine guns, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, as our squad element of riflemen and assaultmen push into the assault position,” Harris explained. “Soon after, the squad forms to assault through the objective, where we employ our M240 medium machine guns and the squad conducts fire-and-movement on and through the objective.”
In conducting this exercise, these soon-to-be war fighters learn fundamentals that can be critical to their effectiveness in combat and protect one another.
“One of the overall things we learned was communication; knowing where each team member is, especially when buddy rushing on a range like this. We have to know where the guy to our left and right are and what they are doing to be effective,” said Pfc. Michael Jetel, a student with Alpha Company. “With supporting fire by machine guns and mortars, it definitely puts into perspective why we do this and why we utilize them. Obviously it is very basic here, but it’s good to know why and how we do this before we move into our units.”