ABOARD THE USS WASP -- As the amphibious assault ships WASP, WHIDBEY ISLAND, and SHREVEPORT transit the sometimes rough seas of the Atlantic Ocean, the embarked Marines of the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) continue to refine and improve their marksmanship skills during live fire exercises.One such training evolution is a compressed Enhanced Marksmanship Program (EMP) conducted by Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, the MEU's ground combat element. EMP is designed to prepare Marines to put rounds on target in a combat environment by putting Marines in more realistic shooting situations than on a normal range."We wore most of the gear that we would wear in actual combat," said Lance Cpl. Anthony Carter, Washington, D.C., an 81mm mortar man assigned to BLT 1/6's Weapons Company. "It made it more realistic."Prior to deploying in mid-February, Carter and his fellow Marines in Weapons Company had attended an EMP course offered at Camp Lejeune. The shipboard firing amplified and enhanced the training they had already received.EMP offers the Marines many fine details on how to improve their shooting, such as how best to place gear on Load Bearing Vests (LBV) so it doesn't interfere with their firing. Other skills included different firing techniques."The closer you get to the target, the higher your rifle needs to be," said Cpl. Matthew Young, a Weapons Company ammunition technician from Hollis, Maine, recalling one of the skills he learned from the EMP. "EMP also taught me how difficult it was to fire at night."Other skills learned during EMP include the tactical reload, how to effectively shoot while moving, and other ways to more effectively handle their weapons."The training evolution came up with relatively short time but came together smoothly and went off without any safety violations or injuries," said Gunnery Sgt. Jason Wysocki, the platoon sergeant for BLT 1/6's 81mm mortar platoon. "The weather wasn't on our side - the rain clouds caught up to us but added to the training." As their deployment unfolds, the Marines of BLT 1/6 will continue to aggressively pursue a comprehensive training program while aboard all three amphibious assault ships. Other topics will skills will include the firing of the battalion's organic crew-served and personal weapons, and firing at night with night vision goggles.In addition to BLT 1/6, the 22d MEU(SOC) consists of its, Command Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 (Reinforced), and MEU Service Support Group 22. The MEU is deployed as part of Expeditionary Strike Group 2 and will serve in both the European and Central Command theaters during its deployment.For more information on the organization, mission and status of the 22d MEU, visit the unit's website at www.22meu.usmc.mil.