News: Fire for effect: CLB-6 Marines train for combined-arms warfare
Story by Cpl. Paul Peterson
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, completed a series of call-for-fire training exercises at the Supporting Arms Virtual Trainer here as part of the unit’s Integrated Training Exercise, May 5-6.
Classes of approximately 18 Marines cycled through simulator training, where they learned how to utilize the Marine Corps’ various fire-support platforms in preparation for Operation Enduring Freedom.
“They’ll have an understanding of how to get fires on an object and suppress and or destroy the enemy,” said Staff Sgt. Justin R. Skelly, a combat engineer and joint fires observer with CLB-6. “Feeling comfortable, getting on the radio, and (sending rounds) down range, that’s the most important thing they’re going to learn here. They’ll have a basic understanding of how it works and how to communicate with the (Fire Direction Center). It’s being that much more confident they’ll be able to go out there under fire, take care of the enemy and save the Marine’s life to their left and their right.”
Skelly, a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., helped drill the students on radio procedures and acquiring targets prior to their simulator exercises.
One of only six such devices in the Marine Corps, the SAVT utilizes voice recognition software to interact with students.
A 180-degree screen capable of displaying nearly any terrain surrounded the two-man teams, who searched for enemy targets and relayed grid coordinates to the computer.
“The trainer itself is very realistic in the sense that you have the tools and the visuals,” said Jack C. Gavin, the site supervisor who spearheaded the training. “I’ve had guys tell me they’ve learned more in a couple hours here than in a week with other (training) packages.”
Additionally, flexibility within the simulator allowed Gavin to customize sessions to the specific needs of the Marines from a variety of military occupational specialties.
“This is an enhancement to training,” said Gavin, who served 20 years as a Marine attack helicopter pilot. “In terms of budgets, to practice and refine their procedures before going out into the field and doing it for real is absolutely essential.”
The students interacted with the software, which even created miscommunication that required the Marines to repeat their radio transmissions.
“I’m more of a hands-on learner, and I think the simulator will give me a better understanding,” said Lance Cpl. Jordan M. Watkins, a bulk fuel specialist with Engineer Company, CLB-6.
The training was a first for Watkins, a native of Cassville, Mo., who volunteered to take part in the course.
“You never know … when you’re out there,” said Watkins. “I think everybody needs to know how to do it because you never know if you’re going to be put in that situation.”
Training for the unexpected is key for the battalion, as it prepares to take on logistics operations in support of other units. The battalion’s exercises, an integral part of its training evolution at Twentynine Palms, will continue with live-fire, combined-arms exercises later in the month.