POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii --
Marines with second platoon, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, conducted a live-fire exercise at the Infantry Platoon Battle Course on Range 10, July 20, 2013, as part of Exercise Lava Viper.
Lava Viper, a staple of Hawaii-based Marines’ pre deployment training cycle, is a battalion-level, combined-arms exercise designed to enhance the skills of the ground combat and support element Marines participating.
The exercise provided an opportunity for the Marines to coordinate a platoon-sized attack with weapons and engineer attachments.
“This is a confirmation of individual and squad-level skills,” said 2nd Lt. James Warlick, second platoon commander, Golf Co., 2nd Bn. 3rd Marines. “We’ve been practicing this for the past week, and it allows us to rehearse fire and maneuver (as well as) integrate fire and supporting arms at the platoon level,” Warlick stated.
Range 10 is a 1,000-meter range, packed with hills and lava rock-laden terrain, peppered with pop up “Ivan” targets. The Marines rushed forward in buddy teams, providing suppressive fire for their other platoon mates to move.
Attached to second platoon were medium machine gunners and assault men with weapons platoon, Golf Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. Combat engineers with Engineer Service Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 3 were also present to hasten the Marines’ advance through the battle course.
“Our mission was to provide a heavy, high and accurate volume of fire in support of second platoon’s offensive operation,” explained Pfc. Kyle Tardiff, machine gunner, weapons platoon, Golf Co., 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. The machine gunners set up in a support-by-fire position at the start of the range, in an elevated position overlooking the battle space with two M240B medium machine gun teams.
While automatic fire rang out overhead, engineers were tasked with breaching obstacles obstructing the movement of second platoon Marines.
Once the obstacles were cleared with explosives, the riflemen and assaultmen bounded across a danger area and into a series of trenches, moving and clearing small inlets with M67 fragmentation grenades along the way.
“Squad leaders were doing a great job of moving their Marines where they needed to be and our attachments did very well,” emphasized Warlick.
Exiting the trenches, riflemen set into support positions while assaultmen armed their Mk. 153 Shoulder-Fired Multi-Purpose Assault Weapons to take out simulated enemy vehicles roughly 150 meters ahead of the platoon.
Paired with the assaultmen were rifle Marines armed with AT-4 84mm single-use rocket launchers. The teams fired consecutive volley fires and destroyed the enemy vehicles.
Upon completion of the volley fires, a counter attack was called and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Marines were present to administer a slew of tear gas grenades. Marines quickly brandished their M50 gas masks and continued to counter the simulated advancing enemy force.
“The use of the gas is to provide confidence to Marines in an uncontrolled environment while still performing their offensive, defensive and counter attacks on the enemy with their masks on,” said Cpl. Carlos Iruegas, CBRN Chief, Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “Although the gas is only a riot-control agent, the repetitious donning of the masks provides Marines with the muscle memory necessary in case a nerve agent is ever used in a real combat situation.”