CAMP HANSEN, Japan - In preparation for the Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting 2012, Marines practiced weapons-handling skills and familiarized themselves with a new assault rifle here April 24.
In its fifth year, the AASAM is a multilateral event allowing Marines to exchange skills, tactics, techniques and procedures with members of the Australian Army and members of 14 other international militaries in friendly competition.
The detachment of III Marine Expeditionary Force Marines is comprised of Marines stationed in Okinawa and from Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Va.
“This gives the Marines a chance to train and compete with different countries,” said Staff Sgt. Travis W. Hawthorne, III MEF detachment staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge. “I’ve been in the Marine Corps for 11 years, and this is the first time I’ve done something like this.”
During the competition, Marines will compete with the 5.56 mm M27 infantry automatic rifle. The rifle, the proposed replacement for the M249 squad automatic weapon, provides many advantages to the shooter. It is similar to the M16A4 service rifle in size, weight and design, making it easier to maneuver than the M249 SAW.
The M27 IAR is shorter in length than its predecessor and offers the option to shoot at semi or fully automatic rates of fire. Since the rifle has a free-floating barrel, the user is able to achieve greater accuracy when shooting.
“I joined the Marine Corps to travel the world and utilize different weapons systems,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon H. Wright, a shooter with the III MEF detachment. “I finally get to do that.”
The Australian Army extended the invitation for U.S. Marine Corps participation in the multinational event. AASAM is currently being hosted at the Puckapunyal Combined Arms Training Center, Victoria, Australia. The competition is scheduled for May 7-17.
Other participating nations included the United Kingdom, Canada, France, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Republic of the Philippines, Japan, Brunei, Timor-Leste, China and Tonga.
“I (think) it’s a great opportunity,” said Lance Cpl. Kevin S. Kahlon, a marksman with the III MEF detachment. “I am excited to celebrate our partnership with our Australian brothers-in-arms.”