FORT PICKETT, VA. --
Light armored vehicles quickly maneuvered down the rough roads while firing their M242 25mm chain gun, blasting wooden bunkers.
As the vehicles came to a halt, Marines jumped out hastily and began assaulting enemy trenches and bunkers.
“Clear that bunker,” yelled a team leader as his Marines approached a wooden bunker, threw a practice grenade inside and cleared the fortified position quickly once it had exploded.
The Marines of light armored reconnaissance platoon, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a live-fire training exercise at the infantry platoon battle course aboard Fort Pickett, Va., Dec. 13, 2010.
This training was the first time the platoon worked together with both crewmen and scouts, and the first time the platoon negotiated the IPBC.
“This is the first time we’ve been together as a platoon,” said Lance Cpl. Linus Ng, a rifleman and New York native with the platoon. “It’s good to get together and see how good we are.”
The Marines employed all their assets including their M242 25mm ‘Bushmaster’ chain guns, M240 7.62mm machine guns, and a M82 .50 caliber special application scoped rifle.
An early-morning winter storm left snow covering the ground. The Marines pushed through, crawling in snow and mud alike as they bounded towards their objective.
“We laugh at the cold,” said Ng. “The weather (is not good) when we go out to train. A day or two of snow doesn’t mean anything.”
As they cleared bunkers and trenches, the Marines would unload and load into the LAVs as they worked to flank a fixed enemy position.
The LAR platoon will deploy with the MEU and the effective completion of IPBC was just the beginning of a long work up of pre-deployment training.
“It’s good to get out there and show the MEU what LAR’s capabilities are,” said 2nd Lt. Steven A. Keegan, the platoon commander and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native, with LAR platoon. “This definitely helps out. It shows that we can work independently with little support.”
A MEU is a force in readiness prepared to respond to the call of the nation and this training will better prepare the Marines of the LAR platoon to complete any possible missions.
“This training is very important because we never know where we’re going to end up,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel M. Treadway, an LAV crewman and Lititz, Penn., native with the platoon.
The BLT participated in a two-week training exercise at Ft. Pickett, Va., in preparation for their upcoming deployment with the 22nd MEU in 2011.
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are in the early stages of their pre-deployment training program, which is a series of progressively, more complex exercises designed to train and test the MEU's ability to operate as a cohesive and effective fighting force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission capable force comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its command element.
Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps' smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force, commanded by a colonel and comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors ready to provide immediate response capabilities in a hostile or crisis mission. While deployed, each MEU also incorporates two KC-130 aircraft available from the continental U.S. to support the unit's operations abroad.
There are seven U.S. Marine Expeditionary Units located around the world with one in Okinawa, Japan, and three on each continental coast of the United States.