USS AMERICA --
Hot brass covered the flight deck of the future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) as Marines and Sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force South fired at targets during a live-fire exercise, Aug. 15.
The purpose of the training was to refresh the Marines and Sailors on their weapon skills as they transit around South America conducting theater security cooperation events with partner-nations.
“We do training like this to sustain our weapons skills,” said Adrian Trujillo, a primary safety officer with SPMAGTF-South, and a Reconnaissance Marine with 1st Marine Division. “That way when we go out to other countries, that knowledge is fresh in our minds.”
The Marines said it was strange at first to fire on top of the ship while it is in motion.
“It was pretty weird,” said Cpl. Bradley Best, a rifleman with SPMAGTF-South. “One second I’m trying to aim at my target and the next I’m on my toes trying to stay balanced because of the swaying of the ship.”
The Marines completed several drills including a failure to stop drill, hammer pairs and control pairs. The drills were designed for specific scenarios that a Marine may encounter in a combat environment.
“Every drill we do has a purpose,” said Trujillo. “The control pair is two controlled shots to an enemy’s chest in case that first shot doesn’t bring him down. A hammer pair is the same thing, just two rapid shots. A failure to stop drills is for when the first two shots to the chest doesn’t bring him down, so we fire another one to the head.”
Live-fire exercises not only improve skill sets, they build camaraderie between the troops during the transit, too.
“This is the most fun part of the job,” said Best, a native of Benicia, Calif. “When we come out here and shoot, we all have a good time and it brings us closer together.”
The Marines completed the live-fire exercise in preparation for sharing their skills with the Peruvian military during an upcoming theater security cooperation event. TSC events consist of multiple bi-lateral exchanges which strengthen the relationships and facilitate cooperation necessary in the event of a crisis requiring a multinational response.
The Marines of SPMAGTF-South are embarked aboard America in support of her maiden transit, "America Visits the Americas". A SPMAGTF is a balanced air, ground and logistics force that can be tailored to accomplish missions across a wide range of crises. Through partner-nation activities, key leader engagements and security cooperation activities, the Marines and Sailors of SPMAGTF-South will demonstrate the flexibility, utility and unparalleled expeditionary capability the Navy-Marine Corps team provides our nation and partners.