CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WECT) - In a rare trip to the gun line at Camp Lejeune, we got a firsthand look at live artillery fire training among the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Regiment Tuesday.
It included Marines and Sailors who are part of the 2d Marine Division (2d MARDIV) working as Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP).
The Marines began using the M777 Howitzer in 2005 in operations including Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve; it is now the primary gun for artillery units.
According to a press release, “Tactical air control parties are small teams of Marines who operate forward of friendly lines and have the critical responsibility to de-conflict airspace activities, conduct command-and-control communications with aviation assets and conduct terminal attack control of close-air support to enemy targets on the ground.”
We’re told Marines with the 10th regiment have used the Howitzer in efforts to combat ISIS in Northern Syria.
The guns are 35 feet long and weight about 7,500.
They can fire roughly 20 miles, depending on ammunition.
1st Lt. Patrick Mciver says it’s training like this that makes marines a relevant fighting force wherever and whenever they’re needed.
“It’s a thrill for our Marines, it’s a thrill for me" he said. "We’ve got 18-year-olds out here, guys that are willing to sign the dotted line and fight for our freedom so it’s a cool experience to come out here. They’re ready to train, quickly engage and making us a better fighting force.”
The fire power teams on the ground work extremely closely with other units with different vantage points as they zero in on a target and coordinate the shot.
“A lot of these Marines, they go through six months of school," said 1st Lt. Patrick Mciver. "They’ve got to do a lot of math, a lot of critical thinking and a lot of trust is put into 18, 19, 20 year-olds who are responsible for millions of dollars of gear and are responsible for something that can hurt people.”
This group will train on the machines for ten straight days with the simple goal of walking away with more finely sharpened skills than when they arrived, having put their classroom learning to the test in the field.