News: 2nd Tanks brings heat during Exercise Javelin Thrust
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Ammunition and armed Marines added to the 115-degree heat in the Combat Center’s training grounds during Exercise Javelin Thrust 2012.
The Marine Corps displayed the lethal capabilities of a Marine air-ground task force, showing extreme firepower from a combination of arms during the weeklong training evolution.
The 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the command element of the large-scale exercise, controlled the training that kicked off July 6, uniting various units from infantry Marine Reserves to a battle tank battalion.
In the spirit of providing the acute gunfire support the M1A1 Abrams battle tank puts forward in combat, the Marines of 2nd Tank Battalion, a Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., -based battalion, arrived together to the war scenario in the Mojave Desert for the first time in 10 years.
The battalion commander, Lt. Col. John Schaar, said it was the best time for the Marine Corps to return to tank-infantry coordination in training, and Javelin Thrust at the Combat Center was the perfect venue for it.
“Tanks are a big part of the MEB, and we’re always here to be a part of that infantry team,” said Schaar, who’s from Rochester, Minn. “We’re capable of operating on a number of different levels.”
To provide the best and safest firepower support, 2nd Tanks’ Marines, commonly known as “tankers,” zeroed in the Abrams’ weapons through a series of gunnery ranges. The tankers conveyed the superiority of the tanks’ sights as one of the best assets to Marines storming through combat on the ground. The sights offer night vision and thermal views with six periscopes, picking up targets almost 10,000 meters away.
Operations chief Master Gunnery Sgt. Alan Arnold said the tank is an irreplaceable asset to the infantry and expressed the importance of getting back in touch with a MAGTF’s full capabilities after tank battalions have been fighting in counterinsurgency operations for the past 10 years.
“The tanks in the Marine Corps are basically the punch in getting into any country,” said Arnold, a native of Ortley, S.D., who’s serving his 27th year in the Corps. “We’re the first force in. You need the firepower to get in there and the tanks are designed to be able to mitigate any circumstances on the ground when getting into any country. In other words, our M1A1 is the premier fighting vehicle to take out any enemy threat that comes from the ground.”
When equipped with a full combat load, the M1A1 carries 40 rounds for its 120 mm main gun, 1,000 rounds for its .50 caliber heavy machinegun and more than 12,500 rounds for its two M240 machineguns. Four Marine tankers crew the M1A1, who also carry their individual ammunition and rifles. The combat load of ammunition carried on a single tank is more than what an infantry company can carry. Figuring one tank battalion has approximately 58 tanks when fully manned, Arnold referred the amount of firepower offered as “astronomical.”
Although a tank weighs up to 70 tons when armed to the teeth, it can travel down desert terrains at speeds up to 45 mph.
For all reasons of the tank’s existence, Gunnery Sgt. Myron Tapio, 2nd Tank Battalion’s master gunner, said Marines should always be aware of what the tank brings to the fight. Sometimes, the firepower isn’t even necessary when tanks arrive to a kinetic situation. The mere sight of the armored fighting machine can be devastating enough, he said.
“It’s funny how everyone behaves when tanks roll up outside of cities,” recalled Tapio from one of his deployments to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We also served other roles other than combat and maneuver,” he added. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, we weren’t just a force of power. We’ve resupplied the infantry when some of their trucks couldn’t get in there. We’ve carried a bunch of ammo to help out the grunts because it was 120 degrees out. We’ve carried, water, chow, and even casevacs (evacuated casualties). We can do a lot with the tanks.”
Deep in the farthest edge of the Combat Center’s desert training terrain, the tank battalion kicked off a final exercise July 9 where they breached through a town on a notional offensive, and set up in a defensive position the next day.
The exercise involved a barrage of ammunition, ordnance and gunfire from different Marine elements. The tank battalion integrated their firepower with AH-1 SuperCobra helicopter armaments, M777 lightweight howitzer fires, and mortars from infantry Marines serving with 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, a Garden City, N.Y., -based reserves battalion.
“The infantry can’t do everything, the air can’t do everything, and tanks definitely can’t do everything,” Arnold said. “As a MAGTF, we can’t do one thing good without everyone. We have to work as a combined force.”
Arnold said since 9/11, the two active duty tank battalions lost practice with their core capability and ability to “really get down into the brass tacks of conventional fighting as a MAGTF.” To break out of the cobwebs and revisit the roots of 2nd Tanks’ abilities, the battalion exposed their junior officers and enlisted leaders to the large-scale task force training.
Arnold said the training was a stepping-stone to build upon for years to come when the Corps continues readying itself for any operations that may arise.
“For these young lieutenants and young sergeants and staff sergeants that have never seen this before: at some point in time the United States will call upon us again and we need to have that MAGTF capability ready,” Arnold said. “If you’ve never seen it, then you’ll need to reinvent the wheel. By exposing them to this, they have something back in their hip pocket and then they can say they remember doing that at one time – ‘I got the concept. I can just build upon that.’”
“Our goal is to be ready no matter what the contingency is,” he added.
Date Posted:07.17.2012 16:29
Location:MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA, US
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