CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait --
Under the cover and fire power of attack helicopters, a platoon of tanks, Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV), mortars, and scout snipers, the desert-hardened devil dogs of Kilo Company conducted a company-level combined-arms live-fire exercise outside of Camp Buehring, Kuwait recently.
The exercise brought together elements organic to Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, to include tanks, AAVs, mortars and the Combined Anti-Armor Team, as well as rotary-wing assets from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced).
According to Lt. Col. Matthew St. Clair, the commanding officer for BLT 3/8, the training exercise was the first time elements of the battalion have executed an attack, of this magnitude, at the company level.
"This was a true company-level combined-arms attack,"explained St. Clair. "Unlike the workup stage of our training where we focused on raids supported by a single element, this was a rifle company supported by other elements organic to the BLT, combined together to optimize the effects of their individual weapons systems."
The attack started with a barrage of long-range, 120mm tank rounds, high explosive 60mm mortar rounds and the reverberating sound of machine gun fire from helicopters overhead. It led into a fierce firefight that saw the tankers and scouts from the AAVs earn every inch of the desolate tract of land on their way to the objective.
According to Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery Peeler with Tank Platoon, BLT 3/8, every one of the organic elements had a role to play. One of their primary roles was to provide anti-armor support by fire for the Marines of Kilo Co.
As the heavier equipment laid down suppressive fire, the infantry Marines descended upon their final objective; a two-story, makeshift building surrounded by razor wire.
Combat engineers rigged a command-controlled detonation to destroy the last line of the"enemy's" defense, opening the gates for Kilo Co.
About three hours after the first round was shot, it was all over as a handful of Marines cleared what was left of the rooms. In the background, thick black smoke billowed from a gaping hole in what was once an enemy tank, slowly filling the evening Kuwaiti skyline.
Lance Cpl. Aaron Garrett, an assaultman from New York with Weapons Platoon, Kilo Co., said he would take a lot with him from this training exercise.
"The training helped a lot with everyone tying together as a team and learning how to work each other into the equation,"he said. "Pretty much everyone played their part, taking all precautions to ensure that everybody came out safe."
St. Clair said the exercise proved that the Marines and sailors of BLT 3/8 were ready to take on any task thrown their way during this deployment.
"The training has allowed us to continue to hone our combat skills,"said St. Clair. "We have once again proven that we can cover the full spectrum of combat operations ranging from a true combined arms attack to a raid or whatever we are called on to do."
The Marines and sailors of BLT 3/8 are currently deployed as the Ground Combat Element for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). HMM-261(rein.) serves as the Aviation Combat Element for the MEU. The 22nd MEU (SOC) is in Kuwait conducting sustainment training as part of a scheduled deployment.