Photo Information

Private First Class Albert M. Birckhead, of Combined Anti-Armor Team Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing, 2nd Second Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, lights-up targets with an M240-G medium machine gun at the convoy live-fire course aboard Fort A.P. Hill, Va., July 15, 2006. The BLT 2/2 Marines are training for a 2007 deployment with the 26th MEU.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy T. Ross

26th MEU Anti-Armor Platoon roars through convoy live fire

16 Jul 2006 | Lance Cpl. Jeremy T. Ross

The two humvees rumbled along the range's gravel road, each filled with five Marines armed to the teeth and on the lookout for trouble.  Suddenly, in a rolling field off to one side, targets popped from the ground and the sound of automatic weapons fire blared from hidden speakers.

"Contact right!" screamed Pfc. Albert M. Birckhead, the turret gunner on the lead vehicle, as he trained his M240-G medium machine gun on the targets, spraying a deadly cone of lead while the other vehicles maneuvered to engage the simulated enemies.

Marines and Sailors of Combined Anti-Armor Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, spent a day sending rounds down range and rehearsing vehicle maneuvers at the convoy live fire course here July 15.

A CAAT platoon is a heavily armed, highly mobile force designed to counter threats posed by enemy armor and vehicles.

It's an awesome force, boasting anti-armor missiles, and heavy and medium crew-served weapon systems, all manned by personnel from the world's premier fighting force.

The vehicle-mounted life-fire course, divided into four scenarios, provided a step-up from the squad attack live-fire training CAAT platoon had been working on during the week leading up to the convoy training, said 2nd Lt. Mark D. Holyfield, CAAT Plt. platoon commander and a native of Nashville, Tenn.

The 26th MEU has a ramp-up approach to training, and the convoy live fire helped the Marines build some essential skills such as dismounts and squad movements, said Holyfield.

The scenarios provided a simulated attack on enemy vehicles at an intersection, responding to near and far ambushes, and neutralizing a roadblock and attacking through the ensuing ambush.

The training mirrored the unit's mentality of always being prepared to bring a heavy payload to an unfortunate enemy, said Pvt. Sean P. Ryan, a tube launched, optically tracked, wire guided (TOW) missile system gunner with CAAT Plt.

"It was crucial training today," said the Quincy, Mass., Marine.  "We don't know where they're going to send us or who we're going to fight, we just have to be ready to go."

Holyfield echoed Ryan's sentiments.

"I'd hate to be the one to pick a fight with a CAAT platoon," he said.

Combined Anti-Armor Team Platoon and the rest of BLT 2/2 continue to train here alongside the MEU's air and logistics elements as a part of a rigorous six-month pre-deployment training program. 

The 26th MEU is scheduled to deploy in early 2007 in support of the Global War on Terrorism.