U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility -- Marines from Battery F., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) recently deployed to U.S. Central Command's Area of Responsibility to participate in live fire training.
An artillery battery has many different aspects. In order to perform its missions it requires the capabilities of many different Marines with different fields of expertise.
Marines of 19 different Military Occupational Specialties in all are required to perform the tasks of the artillery battery. The commanding officer, executive officer, first sergeant and battery gunnery sergeant are the Marines responsible for coordinating the efforts of all the different sections. They make sure that the Motor Transport section, Communications section, Fire Direction Center and Forward Observers all work cohesively to ensure the Battery's ability to perform its mission.
"Our thing is to shoot, move and communicate," says Gunnery Sgt. John Canty Jr., battery gunnery sergeant. "Motor T. gives us mobility. We got the communications section that ties in with our fire direction center that ties in with our forward observers that comes back to the (executive officer) pit with the (executive officer) and battery gunnery sergeant."
"We make sure everything operates as one well oiled-machine," added Canty. "We also have our gun mechanics and all second echelon maintenance for guns, vehicles and weapons. It all comes back to the cannoneers on the gun line, with the support of all these elements, that allows us to get time on target in support of any maneuver unit."
Canty defined "time on target" as "getting the rounds down range whenever a maneuver unit needs it." A maneuver unit is any unit maneuvering in the field.
In addition to its ability to move via its Motor Transport Section, a CH-53 Sea Knight helicopter is capable of lifting and transporting a gun and all of its crew and equipment required to fire.
The weapon of the Battery is the M-198 155 mm Howitzer. It is capable of firing a multitude of different rounds-- High Explosive, Illumination, Smoke and Rocket Assisted Projectile (RAP) rounds, which increase the range of the Battery by 12 kilometers, the "Fast Cam" family of scatterable mines and, "Copperhead" laser guided penetrating rounds to name a few.
Summing up their capabilities, "We are self contained, self sufficient, and capable of operating as provisional infantry or providing accurate fires in support of maneuver," said Capt. Mike L. Landree, battery commander.
Participating in Image Nautilus '03, an exercise conducted in U.S. Central Command's Area of Responsibility, the battery conducted live fire missions in support of air and company maneuver.
"In addition to (Combined Arms Exercise)," an exercise conducted in 29 Palms, California, "this is the only opportunity we have to do realistic training," said Canty. "The weather here is similar to 29 Palms."
"The range was very small, but that just helped us to sharpen our skills," Canty Continued. "With the battery community being so safety conscious, it forces us to operate with precision when firing into such a small impact area as this one here... which is much smaller than any of the ranges I've been at anywhere else."
On working with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines, "We enjoy working with the BLT because of their professionalism, and it gives (us) an opportunity to work hand in hand with those maneuver units we are supporting," said Canty.