FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- On a cold foggy morning in the back woods of Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Marines of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines arrive at their training site here. Their mission is to sharpen their skills in nighttime fire and movement operations. This is only one of many training courses Alpha Co., will be conducting during their month-long stay here.
Moving and engaging targets during the day is hard for some Marines, at night its gets even hairier for those who lack the experience of hitting targets at night. In Alpha, there are many new joins who are just starting to fit into their units, and their lack of experience in night operations will soon be remedied as the day progresses.
“This course will give the Marines confidence in their shooting abilities at night, it also gives them a chance to get a sense of familiarity with their peers,” said Capt. Nathan Perkkio commanding officer of Alpha Co.
Like any other range in the Marine Corps, the Safety officer, 1st Lt. Douglas Bahrns began by giving the range safety brief. Soon after that, the plans were formed and the dry runs began.
Squad after squad combat rushed trough the course, engaging mock targets with their unloaded rifles. All the while, the platoon sergeant critiques every movement and blunder the squad falls upon. At the end of every assault the Marines reflected on how their assault was done and how they can improve.
As the day advanced the Marines became fluent in fire and movement tactics. Their platoon commanders can see the confidence in their squads, as they made the final judgment that their platoons were ready for the night ops. However, as soon as live rounds are in play the ‘pucker factor’ is turned up a notch.
The clouds begin too darken, and the rain starts to fall, but the Marines of Alpha Co. are not phased. The constant drills of combat rushing and fire and maneuver techniques are ingrained into the heads of the Marines, soon it will become second nature.
“This is basic infantry stuff,” said 1st Sgt. James Cully, Alpha Co., first sergeant.
As the day ends, the Marines will become masters of one more basic infantry tactic. Shedding more light on operating in the night, and further advancement.