ABOARD USS KEARSARGE -- In the heat of the midday sun April 26, Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (Special Operations Capable) 81 mm Mortar Platoon fired four of the platoon’s eight mortar systems at the Godoria Range in Djibouti, Africa during advanced combined-arms fire-support training.
The four gun teams, belonging to Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Bn., 8th Marines, fired more than 130 rounds at various targets in conjunction with close air support and precision sniper fire.
This exercise was an opportunity for the MEU to hone some of its unique capabilities as it made its transit through Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa’s area of responsibility.
The Marines in the Mortar positions launched the mortar rounds while coordinating fire with snipers and aircraft. Assisting them with this coordination were forward observers. These Marines were positioned on ridgeline high above the range with a vantage point to see the rounds’ impact. The observers gave the gun teams the coordinates for the targets and assisted in the coordination between them and other fire support assets.
Once the observers calculated the coordinates, they passed that information to the gun line through the Fire Direction Center. Based on this information, the FDC determined the type of rounds to use, the charge need and the deflection and elevation to put the rounds on target.
As the FDC relayed commands to the gun teams, sniper fire from near the observer position could be heard. Almost immediately after the snipers ceased firing, the mortar teams fired their rounds onto the target. Like clockwork, the impact of the 81mm mortars was followed by close air support from MEU aircraft including helicopters and jets.
With training in Africa complete, the platoon packed up their tubes and returned to the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) to continue a with the 26th MEU (SOC) deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
To learn more about the 26th MEU (SOC) visit www.26meu.usmc.mil.