Grunts, Battery battle insurgents in Haswa

15 Oct 2004 | Lance Cpl. Zachary R. Frank

Combined arms tactics have been a part of Marine Corps warfighting doctrine for years.  It allows Marines to dial up their intensity to overcome their enemies.  In Iraq, the practice is working well.

Recently, while conducting a counter-mortar patrol in the town of Haswa, Iraq, a squad of Marines from Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, used combined arms when they were ambushed by a group of Iraqi insurgents.

The insurgents opened up on the squad with small-arms fire as they were passing through the vicinity of Haswa's old police station.

The Marines then began returning fire, and an intense firefight ensued.

M-240G machine gunners began laying down a base of fire as the rest of the squad worked to gain fire superiority over the enemy who was well hidden in the surrounding buildings.
With the squad laying down a heavy amount of fire, enemy rounds continued to bounce off their vehicles. Three Marines were injured, two of them seriously. With no way to stop the enemy's barrage of gunfire from their hiding places in the building's, Marines called the battalion’s headquarters for fire support.

One of the injured Marines, Pfc. Michael P. Savoie, of Westwego, La, had his Kevlar helmet shot.  The round entered his helmet and penetrated deep enough to cause a cut to the left side of his head before exiting the helmet.  The enemy round struck him early in the engagement, but his wound didn’t keep him out of the fight.  He jumped back on his gun and continued to fire, having to wipe blood out of his eyes to see.

The battalion then forwarded the squad’s fire-support request to the Marines of Bravo Battery, who responded with blazing guns.

After receiving and processing the request, the cannoneers sent six rounds hurling toward targets called in by Alpha Company.

With the added firepower, the squad easily overpowered the enemy and began to assess their damage and care for the wounded.

“Once artillery started firing, (the insurgents') rate of fire dropped drastically,” said Sgt. Robert Ballance, 24, a Springfield, Ill., native and squad leader with Alpha Company.
Within three minutes of receipt of the call, the battery had launched its fire mission to support the infantryman.

“We have a very real concept of this situation, and we’re ready to quickly assist whenever necessary,” said Staff Sgt. Richard W. Musard, 38, the battery operations chief, and a native of Richmond, Va. “We have the capability of putting out a round in thirty seconds if needed.”

“Our mission is to provide accurate and timely artillery fire every time it’s necessary,” said Musard.

“It was pretty much over once they started firing,” Said Savoie.