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    Blue Diamond Marines highlight mortar reliability at Army’s Best Mortar Competition

    Krakens Splash at Exercise Koolendong

    Photo By Cpl. Cedar Barnes | A U.S. Marine Corps 81mm mortarman with 3d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Ground...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Joseph DiPietro 

    1st Marine Division

    1st Marine Division mortarmen with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, participated in the U.S. Army’s Best Mortar Competition at the Maneuver Center of Excellence in Fort Benning, Georgia, April 10-13.

    Marines from the Blue Diamond, alongside mortarmen from 2nd Marine Division units, the U.S. Army, and various foreign military services, executed a multi-day series of tests to evaluate their indirect fire proficiency and general combat readiness.

    “When we heard about the 198th Infantry Brigade Best Mortar Competition we immediately wanted to nominate a team from our 81 mm mortar platoon,” said Capt. Mike Franco, a company commander and the fire support coordinator for 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. “We recognized the benefits of sending a team of our best mortarmen to compete against, and more importantly learn from, a cross section of experts in indirect fire employment. Responsive and accurate mortar fires are vital to success in future battles.”

    Participation in this competition reinforced 1st MARDIV’s commitment to fire support redundancy and versatile lethality across the force. In the age of high-tech weapons systems, loitering munitions, and long-range precision fires, mortar suppression may be the most reliable and easiest to move in expeditionary advanced base operations. Mortarmen across the division and the Marine Corps train tirelessly to carry, emplace, and employ 60 mm and 81 mm mortar systems in support of their fellow infantrymen.

    “The 198th Infantry Brigade Best Mortar Competition was a great opportunity to compete against the best mortarmen from across the DoD,” added 1st. Lt. Guy Kellogg, the 81 mm platoon commander for 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. “Our team did well with FDC, mortar knowledge test, 81 mm live-fire, pistol live-fire, and held our own during the 120 mm live-fire. I recommend the 1st Marine Division continue to send teams – the Marines of 3/5 left the competition humbled but energized to implement the lessons learned.”

    The Best Mortar Competition provided the Marines a great learning experience, with three Marine teams finishing just behind the teams from the U.S. Army’s Ranger battalions and the 82nd Airborne Division.

    “It’s been great, we’ve been talking to a lot of the Army units, and the Ranger teams and the Dutch team out here, and we’ve learned some of their tricks and standard operating procedures,” said 1st. Lt. Kelly Owen, the 81 mm platoon commander for 2nd Bn., 7th Marines. “There are certainly things that we’ll take back with us and it’s been very good.”

    Although they lack the destructive power of precision guided munitions, mortar firepower remains critical to the success of ground maneuver. Mortars provide immediate suppression capabilities, all-weather redundancy, target marking, and remain resistant to electronic attacks. A crisis response force or any geographically isolated unit can utilize mortars even without communications or a clear sky. The greatest limitation to that unit might be how many rounds the mortar team can carry, but the 0341 community prides itself on strength.

    “Mortars are the infantry battalions’ all-weather, organic, indirect fire capability and are part of the foundational pillar of combined arms and placing the enemy on the horns of a dilemma,” explained Master Gunnery Sgt. Robert Robinson, the division operations chief for 1st MARDIV. “Mortar gunnery is a unique skillset that, as a service, we have deemed critical. This competition allows us not only to compete, but to learn from other units and other countries in order to refine our training and employment techniques.”



    Date Taken: 05.01.2023
    Date Posted: 05.09.2023 15:08
    Story ID: 444320
    Location: FORT BENNING, GA, US 
    Hometown: DALLAS, TX, US

    Web Views: 236
    Downloads: 0