The newest designated members of the Light Armored Reconnaissance, Fox Company 4th LAR, took their LAV-25 aka War Pigs out on the open road recently and reporter Chuck Crumbo was there to record the first adventure.
Staff Writer South Carolina, The State
For the Marines of Fox Company, Sunday seemed like a good day to go out for a little spin — especially in their new LAV-25s.
Each platoon took turns driving the eight-wheel LAVs (light armored vehicles) on the dusty trails cut through the piney woods of Fort Jackson.
“They’re fast,” said Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Butler, 2nd Platoon sergeant, echoing the collective view of the vehicles, which most members of the Marine Reserve unit were training on for the first time.
The arrival of the all-terrain vehicles, which have a top speed of 70 mph, marks a major change for the unit. The Marines previously had been assigned M-1A1 tanks, which can hit 40 mph.
At 29 tons, the LAV, which was first introduced in the 1980s and costs about $900,000, weighs about as much as a tank turret, which is about 23 tons. A whole tank weighs about 62 tons.
Tanks, which sport a $4 million price tag, weigh more because they are protected by a thick skin of armor plating, which can repel everything but a missile attack.
The skin of the LAV offers protection from small-arms and machine-gun fire, said Capt. B.M. Rodden, commander of the Marine Reserve Center.
Lance Cpl. Patrick Reid, who spent Sunday at the wheel of an LAV, used to be a tank gunner. While enthusiastic about the mission change, Reid conceded, “I’m just a little worried about the armor not being there.”
Seventeen of 25 LAVs that have been assigned to the reservists have arrived, Rodden said.
The vehicles’ crew includes a driver, gunner and commander; in addition, an LAV can carry up to six riflemen.
As the transition progresses from tank to infantry, Rodden said the reserve unit will nearly double in size from 76 to 140 Marines.
Having LAVs, which can be operated on local streets and highways, will offer members of the reserve unit more training opportunities. If they needed to train at another base, the Marines had to load their tanks on a train or an 18-wheeler, Butler said.
“With these (LAVs), all we have to do is check the oil, gas ’em up and get out on I-20,” Butler said.
Being assigned LAVs means the Marines also are switching from an armored to light infantry unit. In this instance, the Marines are training for reconnaissance missions, which require them to scout enemy positions in advance of the main infantry element.
“The job for a light-armored reconnaissance unit is go out and search, to see the enemy, to see if you can overwhelm them, and to report back what you see,” Butler said.
Although the tactics and formations are about the same, Butler, a former tank commander and Desert Storm veteran, said there is a difference in switching from tanks to LAVs.
“You’re going from being the bull of the battlefield to being just another player. When you’re in a tank, you don’t fear much on the battlefield,” Butler said.
As part of the mission change, the Marines have switched unit designations. They are now members of Fox Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, instead of Delta Company, 8th Tank.
The State | 10/24/2005 | Out for a Sunday drive: