News: New Zealand gunners introduce U.S. Marines to big guns during Exercise Galvanic Kiwi
Story by Sgt. Jacob Harrer
LINTON ARMY CAMP, New Zealand – A heavy truck quickly rolled up with a L16A2 light gun in tow. New Zealand gunners promptly hopped out of the truck bed and unhitched the gun as their U.S. Marine guests watched. Within five minutes, the gunners had emplaced the weapon, aimed, blank fired, hitched and drove away to another objective.
“Those soldiers emplace their guns just as quickly as we do, and I’m very impressed with how fast they move,” said Sgt. Robert W. Morgan, an artillery section chief with Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment.
The demonstration was part of an introduction to New Zealand’s artillery systems for visiting U.S. Marines taking part in Exercise Galvanic Kiwi, a bilateral military exchange between New Zealand soldiers and U.S. Marines.
The New Zealand Army 163 Battery, 16th Field Regiment, hosted the Marines and linked each person to a counterpart within the battery here, June 15.
As they train over the next few weeks, the soldiers and Marines will travel together, fire cannons and mortars and maneuver.
The New Zealand gunners showed Marines the vehicles, communications systems and weapons they use in training and in operations. Many of the Marines noticed similarities between their techniques, and some were impressed by the unique capabilities of the New Zealand Army.
Marine Sgt. Aaron A. Bouquet, a fire direction controlman with Alpha Battery, expressed his excitement about a mobile command post set up in the bed of the New Zealand H1 truck. All communication equipment is laid out inside with seating already in place, so soldiers only need to set up antennae or satellite before being ready to receive fire missions.
The Marines require two humvees and a tent in order to set up their fire direction center, explained Bouquet, a 23-year-old native of Comanche, Texas.
“I’ve always wanted something like this,” added Bouquet. “With this, we only need one person to set up while everyone else works inside. This is my dream come true.”
Another unique difference lies with the sighting system of the L119 light gun, a 105 millimeter cannon that is lighter and more mobile than the 155 millimeter M777A2 lightweight howitzer employed by the Marines, said Morgan, a 28-year-old native of San Diego. A gunner can adjust the crosshairs of the sights, allowing them to quickly sight in on moving targets during direct fire missions.
There are many things I like about these guys, Morgan said.
He explained that they work hard at their jobs, and he is excited to be able to get out and train with them.
New Zealand soldiers are currently training with U.S. Marines in California, while a detachment of U.S. Marine artillerymen and engineers are training with New Zealand Army counterparts based here. Galvanic Kiwi is a U.S. Marine Corps and New Zealand Army training exchange designed to enhance interoperability and foster military-to-military relations between the U.S. and New Zealand.
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