DJIBOUTI, Djibouti --
Marines with Echo Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conducted 60mm mortar shoot while training ashore near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Oct. 9, 2011.
The Marines fired the M224 60mm mortar system conventionally, using a tripod and forward observer, and hand-help, using the motorman’s own ability to judge range and aim, to better hone their skills while forward deployed.
“It’s always important to actually do our job with live rounds,” said Cpl. David A. Dias, the mortarman section leader with Echo Company, and Hanford, Calif., native. “Being on ship, we can’t use live rounds and deal with the safety complications. So it’s always good to get out there so we’re prepared if anything should happen in our area of operations.”
Conventional, coordinated fires training refers to firing the motor system from its tripod at targets designated from a forward observer. The Marines accurately launched motors at targets more than two kilometers away.
After firing nearly 80 rounds, the Marines practiced firing the mortar system in the hand-held mode. Hand-held firing requires even more skill as a Marine, without the assistance of a tripod, steadies and aims the tube with one hand and pulls the mortar-system’s trigger with the other.
While hand-held firing does not have the same range and accuracy, it is effective in expedient situations such as convoys.
“I think the hand-held mortar training went really well,” said Cpl. Seth J. Desplinter, a mortar section squad leader with Echo Company, and Kewanee, Ill., native. “It’s the one aspect of being a mortarman where it’s just you and the mortar system. It’s important to practice it to refresh your fundamentals, just like rifle marksmanship.”
The Marines practiced hand-held firing until the night, after which they returned the mortar tubes to their tripods and began conventional, coordinated night firing.
Night firing is a test for both mortarmen and forward observers. They must coordinate illumination and high-explosive rounds simultaneously, which has the effect of illuminating the area just before the high-explosive rounds find their targets when coordinated correctly.
“Night fire is really important,” said Dias. “If we have a post somewhere they want to know that their illumination rounds will be accurate.”
Dias went on to say the mortar training, overall, went very well. He added that their fires were accurate from the time the training started.
The 22nd MEU is currently deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) as the U.S. Central Command theatre reserve force, also providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.