DJIBOUTI, Africa -- Marines are built for speed. Fascinated by it, leathernecks crave their fast food, fast cars and faster music. It’s speed – quick thinking and hands – that have kept them alive on the dark side of a kicked-in door since 1775. Proven time and again, Marines who make it back through those shattered doors, having seen the other side, know that speed kills and absolute speed kills absolutely.
In effort to hone their lightning-fast reaction times and gain additional experience in handling their weapons in unconventional situations, Marines serving with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (Special Operations Capable) MEU Service Support Group 24 participated in an enhanced marksmanship program and crew-served weapon live-fire range while training in Djibouti, Africa.
“The purpose of the range is to make them more proficient with the weapons,” explained Gunnery Sgt. Brian Scamman, MSSG-24 military police staff non-commissioned officer and Kezar Falls, Maine, native. Scamman, acting as a coach and range safety officer, said that the unique nature and different military occupational specialties of the support group make its combat readiness essential. “The biggest thing is the support of the BLT (Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment). We could be on the next convoy; we need to be proficient with the weapons,” he added.
Marines were put through their paces, moving with controlled speed through several courses of fire that included 90-degree turns, double-tap drills, failure-to-stop drills and remedial-action exercises. First Lt. Arleigh Lacefield, the range officer-in-charge who hails from Virginia Beach, Va., said that regardless of their background, keeping up on “basic warrior skills” is always a necessity.
“Look at the MSSG from last year’s MEU. They were doing checkpoints and patrols in addition to the performance of their regular duties,” said Lacefield. “When they’re providing something like convoy security and they’re cleared to dismount, they need to have these basic skills.”
The course of fire taught Marines to engage targets while moving – with rapid accuracy – and emphasized weapon quickness and realism over the standard-fare marksmanship of a Marine Corps rifle range, said Cpl. Ted Daw, a light-armored vehicle mechanic from Eagle Point, Ore. “This is more realistic to what we’ll be doing,” added Daw. “We’re not going to be at the 500-yard line in the prone.”
For Marines, the mathematical equations of combat always get better with speed. Move quick through that door and your buddy lives. Move faster and you’ll survive a dangerous situation. Fire quicker, with accuracy, and your squad will walk out of a room together. Shoot and move with speed and we all go home. Speed is fascinating -- absolutely.