News: 13th MEU conducts bilateral howitzer training at PHIBLEX 14
Story by Lance Cpl. David Hersey
CROW VALLEY, Philippines - Receiving a call over the radio, the Marine listens to the coordinates and makes the necessary calculations. He relays the order to the howitzer team who then fires the weapon, taking out the target, and ending the training for the day.
Republic of the Philippines Marines and Army forces and U.S. Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Force conducted firing training with the M101 105mm towed howitzer Sept. 18-21 at Crow Valley Range Complex, Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac, Republic of the Philippines during Amphibious Landing Exercise 14.
PHIBLEX 14 is a bilateral training exercise designed to demonstrate the commitment of the United States and Republic of the Philippines to mutual security, and ensures the readiness of a bilateral force able to rapidly respond to regional humanitarian crises.
During the training, the Marines practiced advanced party operation, which allows scouts to establish a position for the main body of the group to arrive; reconnaissance selection, which clears the area and marks the position to establish the weapons; occupying a firing position by constructing a center of operations and establishing perimeter security; and preparing to fire and engaging the target with the howitzer.
The mission of artillery is to support the infantry, according to 1st Lt. Jeff M. Lyon, an artillery officer with Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 13th MEU. Lives depend on the accuracy of their fire.
“If we are not accurate, it could mean the target survives and has another opportunity to (harm our combined forces),” said Lyon. “That’s why we take great pride in what we do and train constantly to maintain efficiency and accuracy.”
Training together with the Philippine Marines and Army builds not only efficiency and teamwork, it offers both sides the opportunity to learn from each other and add more knowledge and experiences to their own arsenal, according to Staff Sgt. Joshua L. Summers, a field artillery operations man with the unit.
“We’re building bridges between our forces and theirs,” said Summers. “When we share our tactics we’re learning to work together efficiently, and we also learn to better appreciate the effort that goes into putting a round down range. In the end, both of our forces came out faster, smarter and more accurate because of what we did here.”