Photo Information

Machine gunners with Company C, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, sprint to a hilltop to establish a support by fire position in order to provide suppressing fires for several platoons of riflemen. 1/3 Marines conducted a company level live fire assault during an Integrated Training Exercise aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., July 29.

Photo by Cpl. Seth Starr

1/3 Conquers Range 400

31 Jul 2015 | Cpl. Seth Starr 3rd Marine Division

Early risers; the Marines from Company C, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, battled unforgiving terrain on range 400 during an Integrated Training Exercise aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, July 29. 

“Charlie” conducted a live fire maneuver range combined arms attack that emphasized the use of suppression and forced company leadership to make decisions utilizing the assets available to them organically. Along with home grown assets, 1/3 took on battalion attachments in the form of an 81 mm mortar section and an additional combined arms section.

When the attack commenced, Marines deployed Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching (APOB) systems, which cleared multiple barricades and obstacles that prevented their initial approach. Once cleared, platoons were strategically placed into support by fire and maneuver elements for an initial push onto the objective. Under the cover of medium machine gun and mortar fire, riflemen and combat engineers traced along two separate creek beds engaging enemy targets and breached the first set of enemy bunkers.

“You’re not always going to have air support and may find yourself in a situation where you have to face the enemy with only what you have with you,” said Capt. Matt Tweed, company commander for Company C, 1/3. “The key to this kind of assault is tying together overhead suppression while maintaining movement and cover with battalion attachments.”

Just over a mile long, range 400 held true to its intended purpose for 1/3 Marines. After an exhausting 400 meter sprint on steep and uneven sections of shale rock and sand, engineers and assault men reached the second section of enemy positions and sustained three notional casualties while attempting to breach wire obstacles. 

Lance Cpl. Oscar Egea, an assault man with Company C, said it’s important for Marines to experience these kinds of scenarios in order to gain a proper understanding of covering fires. 

“This kind of thing is important for Marines to learn because we can see immediately how important suppression and cover is when crossing over a danger area or moving into a breach site,” said Egea. “If those overhead supporting elements aren’t present during an assault, then we’re dead men.”

Following an earth-shaking explosion from a single APOB, Egea and his team cleared the final set of obstacles while rifleman pushed through the breach and, through fire and maneuver, entered the enemy strong point and eliminated all remaining threats.

“The biggest thing to take away from range 400 is the concept of moving each piece of the company in such a way that it overwhelms the target and keeps the Marines under a blanket of covering fire,” said Tweed. “It’s every company commander’s dream to come out to range 400; it’s like a badge of honor, and I think that ‘Charlie’ company took it home today.”