News: MRF-D puts their fire team leaders to the test
Story by Cpl. James Gulliver
ROBERTSON BARRACKS, Northern Territory, Australia – The loud crack of automatic weapon fire echoes through the trees as Marines and Australian Army Soldiers adjust the sight alignment of their Infantry Automatic Rifles in preparation for the next course of fire. This is just their first day of firing. Throughout the duration of the course they will conduct multiple ranges and tests that will push them to their limits.
The Marines and Soldiers are participating in the Fire Team Leaders’ Course, a two-week evaluation intended to test them both physically and mentally, here, May 27, 2014. The fire team leaders’ course is designed to prepare fire team leaders with MRF-D for any challenge they might face while deployed, or in future conflicts.
The rotational deployment in Darwin enables Marines to more effectively train, exercise, and operate with partners and builds capacity to respond more rapidly to natural disasters and crises throughout the region.
“We really want our Marines to come away from this course with all the tools they need to become an effective fire team leader,” said 1st Lt. Michael Bucher, a platoon commander with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin. “This will set up the whole battalion for success if our lowest level of leadership is strong.”
The course began with classroom instruction covering weapons handling, the role of a fire team leader and Marine Corps history.
The classroom instruction gave the Marines a chance to get hands on experience before taking their new set of skills out to the field, said Lance Cpl. Allen Smith, a fire team leader with 1st Bn., 5th Marines.
The Marines then moved onto in the field portion of the course where they conducted multiple ranges testing their knowledge and skill with weapons systems ranging from the M-16 Service Rifle to the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
“As a fire team leader you have to know the ins and outs of these weapons systems,” said Smith, a native of Rexburg, Idaho. “That way if you’re ever put in a position where you need to operate one of them you are ready.”
The small unit leadership evaluation concluded the course where each Marine and Australian were given control of a fire team and completed a series of obstacles including casualty evacuation and calling in air support.
“Each fire team will be going through about 10 stations,” said Bucher, a native of Scottsdale, Arizona. “They will be planning attacks, briefing orders and making sure their team is on the same page.”
Bucher believes the success of the battalion in the future is hinged upon the actions of fire team leaders, and that excellence in the basics builds a stronger Marine Corps.