News: MRF-D holds crew-served weapons competition in the Top End
Story by Cpl. James Gulliver
MOUNT BUNDEY TRAINING AREA, Northern Territory, Australia -- Explosions echoed through the tree line competing with the shouts of section leaders hurrying each member of his squad to perform his task as fast as possible. This was just the first day of the crew-served weapons competition designed to test the Marines of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, and push them to their limits.
The week-long competition included weapons systems ranging from the M240 machine-gun, to the 81mm mortar system, here June 19, 2014.
“This gives our guys a chance to come out and compete against each-other,” said Staff Sgt. Habacuc Cornejo, platoon sergeant, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, MRF-D. “They have developed their skills through a lot of training and practice, now it is time to put them to the test and see what they are capable of.”
The Marines were graded on their abilities to operate their weapons systems efficiently, their orders process, weapons deployment and tactical knowledge.
“This shows that our small-unit leaders have the capability to properly employ their teams,” said Cornejo. “Without this capability there is not a mission that you can accomplish.”
Cornejo believes that because the event is a competition, it drives his Marines to perform at their best and challenges them.
Weapons company Marines have a specific weapons system they’re assigned to during training. They must learn it’s capabilities and how to properly employ it.
“There is a lot expected of these guys,” said 1st Lt. Sean McDonnell, weapons platoon commander, Alpha Co., 1st Bn., 5th Marines, MRF-D. “Not only do they have to be proficient in their specific weapon system, but also must be proficient in infantry tasks such as patrolling and engaging enemy threats.”
Mount Bundey Training Area gives the Marines a unique benefit not afforded to them back in U.S.
“We have permission to come out here and actually set up our own ranges and can adjust the training area to fit our needs,” said McDonnell. “This allows us to set up a more realistic training scenario then ones that we would encounter back home.”
The competition also gave the Marines a chance to prepare themselves for upcoming bi-lateral exercise including Exercise Hamel and Koolendong.
“Our guys are really going to come away with this with a lot more confidence,” said Cornejo. “Not only with they be able to identify their strengths but also their weaknesses so they can improve on those and be ready for our upcoming exercises.”
The Marines finished the day exhausted but also confident in their abilities and ready for any future challenges they might face.