GULF OF ADEN --
Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) competed in a squad competition aboard dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), Sept. 1.
Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment Marines competed in the one day competition aboard the Norfolk-based Whidbey Island.
The competition was geared towards junior Marines and was comprised of four stations; M-249 squad automatic weapon (SAW) disassembly and reassembly, M-249 SAW immediate and remedial action drills, Navy portable radio 152 assembly, and Call for Supporting Fires.
“It was important, for the Marines, so they can see where they stand, as far as abilities, against their peers,” said Cpl. Joseph D. Allen, a team leader with Echo Company and San Antonio, Texas, native. “They can identify where they’re deficient and work on their weaknesses.”
The Marines completed each task as quickly as possible then sprinted to their next station carrying their SAW and wearing their flak vest. The first two stations were the SAW disassembly and reassembly, and SAW immediate and remedial action drills.
“We emphasize things like call for fires because they need to know it,” said Allen. “But, real world, combat environment, the most important part was the first two stations.”
The Marines sprinted up vehicle ramps and onto the flight deck for their last two stations. After assembling and programming their radio, the Marines had to run to the “call for fires” station. There, using a map, they were able to practice plotting points and calling in artillery or mortars.
“From the time we learned [call for fires] we’ve really progressed,” said Lance Cpl. Hunter B. Gordon, a SAW gunner with Echo Company and Union, Ky., native. “There’s always room for improvement but this has really helped it sink in.”
Allen added that he believes the competition went well and did exactly what they needed it to do by identifying what aspects of combat readiness needs more work.
The Marines will continue to train and enhance their combat skills as they wait to be called upon.
The 22nd MEU is currently deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) as the U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, also providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.