News: U.S. Marine and New Zealand gunners fire cannons in snowstorm to conclude Exercise Brimstone
Story by Sgt. Jacob Harrer
WAIOURU MILITARY TRAINING AREA, New Zealand – Through rain, snow and shine, gun crews kept the cannons firing as New Zealand gunners and U.S. Marines concluded training with the L119 light gun here, June 27.
U.S. Marines from Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, joined with the New Zealand Army’s 163 Battery, 16th Field Regiment, for Exercise Brimstone, an annual training and evaluation event where gunners and officers were evaluated on a number of skills, including gunnery, fire plans, and command post operations.
This year’s Exercise Brimstone was a part of Exercise Galvanic Kiwi, a joint military exchange between the United States and New Zealand.
U.S. Marines from all specialties teamed with their counterparts in the 163 Battery to participate in all aspects of the training, including firing the L119 light guns, receiving and transmitting fire missions, gathering and delivering supplies, maintaining equipment and managing ammunition.
The diverse array of specialists ensured the cannons were able to shoot and move frequently. Each day, a reconnaissance team scouted for new firing positions and gathered weather data. When the troops found a new site, the gun crews broke down their cannons, hitched them to their trucks, drove to the next position and emplaced the guns.
Repositioning occurred day and night. All gear traveled with the Marines and soldiers who set up camp complete with tents and camouflage netting to conceal guns and vehicles.
The partnered forces encountered cold and varying weather while rolling hills, valleys, peaks and other distinct terrain features dominated the landscape.
During the last two days of training, heavy snow blanketed Waiouru, and the gun crews pushed on.
“As Marines, we love to train in the field, so to get our hands on a new environment as austere and challenging in terms of topography and weather is great,” said 1st Sgt. David M. McKinley, the Alpha Battery first sergeant with 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment.
McKinley, a 37-year-old native of Cincinnati, said the New Zealand soldiers had creative ways of dealing with the harsh climate, and he was impressed with the way they built large, low-hanging tents out of tarps. The tarps were nailed down and sloped downwind to deflect wind and rain, and they were tall and spacious enough to house several soldiers and their gear.
One gun crew used the steam from a teapot to keep warm, said Pfc. John Desimone, an artilleryman with Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. The soldiers and Marines pulled the edges of a blanket over the steaming kettle and pulled down, letting the steam warm and dry off their feet. Desimone, a native of Long Island, N.Y., said it felt great and helped keep him warm.
After several days in the field, the New Zealand gunners and Marines worked smoothly together, said New Zealand Army Warrant Officer Class 1 Damon Mitchell, the 163 Battery captain with the 16th Field Regiment. The New Zealand soldiers treated the Marines like their own, he added.
Mitchell, a native of Palmerston North, worked with U.S. forces while deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year. He also completed targeting training with U.S. Marines, and he saw the benefits of partnered training.
“To train together before you go overseas and work together will result in saving lives in the long run,” Mitchell said. “The more we can train together before we fight together, the more everyone’s going to benefit from it.”
Galvanic Kiwi is a U.S. Marine Corps and New Zealand Army training exchange designed to enhance interoperability and foster military-to-military relations between the U.S. and New Zealand.
This work, U.S. Marine and New Zealand gunners fire cannons in snowstorm to conclude Exercise Brimstone, by SSgt Jacob Harrer, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.