CAMP PENDLETON, CALIF. -- The 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, which consists of four artillery battalions and a headquarters battalion, put their skills to the test during a large-scale, combined-arms training Spring Fire Exercise at Camp Pendleton, March 30-April 2, 2016.
Since its origin, the 11th Marine Regiment has served as the Marine Corps’ long-range artillery threat, able to engage targets from miles away in support of the ground combat element. Marines within the regiment have trained in particular aspects pertaining to coordinating and executing fire missions.
“So far, we have done smaller scale exercises to work on specific things involving what we do,” said Staff Sgt. Albert Macklin, a battery local security chief with 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. “This time we are putting everything together and operating as a single entity instead of separate companies trying to work out the kinks.”
Macklin, a New Orleans native, added the end state for the exercise was to hone and maintain the unit’s ability to plan and execute artillery fires, which includes support coordination with adjacent friendlies, establishing communications using High Frequency radios and antennas, and supporting the regiment's command and control process.
Fire missions were coordinated and called at random intervals by the headquarters element, while Marines manning the artillery weapons were ready to fire swiftly and accurately upon command. Macklin added that Marines are also capable of moving their respective artillery weaponry to any location, dismount from their vehicles and still fire rounds down range in a timely manner.
“We move quickly I’ll tell you that,” said Macklin. “One of our strong points, especially when we are talking about getting off as many rounds as possible, is our ability to complete the mission as fast as possible. It’s our bread and butter and it’s what makes us an asset to anyone we support.”
During the evolution, each battalion moved to different locations on a frequent basis in order to simulate positions they would hold given their circumstances. Marines do this as fast as possible, so they can engage targets in a timely manner. Although setting up and breaking down quickly can be a tedious process, Marines recognize the significance of rehearsing this procedure.
“It’s tough breaking down a everything,” said Sgt. Jonathan Gonzalez, a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System Operator with 5/11. “It can get discouraging sometimes when we have to change locations and it feels like we just got set up. You just got to get into that mindset that it’s all for a purpose and in a real situation we need to be as fast as possible.”
Although field exercises can be physically and mentally exhausting, Marines were proud to be a part of the exercise and the regiment as a whole.
“These guys are definitely dedicated in what they do and they work hard, that’s all I can really ask for,” said Macklin.
Spring Fire Exercise is one of the many training evolutions the Marine Corps conducts to adhere to the highest standard of operational performance. The regiment will continue to train its Marines to perform at the highest level in any clime and place in preparation for future deployments and operations.