Monday, April 29, 2013

First LAR Flying LAV's

DVIDS--Marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion embarked on a two-day mission to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to learn the basics of loading and unloading LAV vehicles from aircraft.

After loading the LAVs onto the C-17s, the Marines were flown back to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., where they unloaded their vehicles from the aircraft.

1st LAR Marines must be able to quickly load and unload their vehicles in order to rapidly deploy to any part of the world at a moment’s notice.

“This capability if used properly allows us to get into a battle space quickly, get off the plane and complete our objectives,” said Staff Sgt. Case Unfried, a platoon sergeant serving with 1st LAR.

The LAVs the Marines use carry a M242 Bushmaster chain gun, making it a lethal force on the battlefield.

“We are the reconnaissance element of the ground forces, so we need to be able to engage and eliminate any threats that might present themselves to us on our missions,” said Staff Sgt. Phillip Broberg, a master gunner serving with Delta Company, 1st LAR.

Once the Marines arrive at their destination they have the capabilities to perform either counter-insurgency missions, or humanitarian missions.

“Not everything we do is combat-related,” said Lt. Col. Gilbert Juarez, the commanding officer of 1st LAR. “We are capable of helping the local populace with supplies and other items they might need.”

“Our Marines will continue dedicating themselves to their training, and to fighting future conflicts,” the San Diego native said. “I have complete faith that all my Marines are up to any challenge.”

Whether it is a terrorist attack, or a hurricane stricken land the Marines of 1st LAR have the rapid deployment capabilities to reach their objectives.

The primary aircraft used to transport LAVs over long distance is the C-17 Globemaster. The aircraft can hold up to 175,000 pounds, and with a maximum airspeed of 515 miles per hour, it is ideal for transporting these vehicles long distances.

“This really adds a whole new level to our deployment capabilities,” said Unfried, a Tehachapi, Calif., native. “This means we can respond to any incidents that happen worldwide.”

The speed of the Globemaster makes the deployment of Marines a much quicker process then by traditional means aboard a ship.

“Usually when we need to get anywhere far away, it's by ship,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Klawier, a company commander serving with Delta Company, 1st LAR. “Using C-17s, we can get heavy fire power into the fight a lot quicker.”

Saturday, April 27, 2013

When WAR PIGS Fly...

A War Pig aka "light armored vehicle" from the  1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion flies  a C-17 Globemaster cargo plane during a strategic mobility exercises , April 24, 2013. The exercise  trains LAR crews the basics of loading and unloading their LAVs from  the flying mack truck. The aircraft can carry four LAVs, and with a maximum flying distance of 2,400 miles.
photo LCpl. James Gulliver
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Lance Cpl. Daniel Hays,USS KEARSARGE, AT SEA

Lance Cpl. Daniel Hays cleaning the barrel of a .25mm gun on a landing craft air cushion (LCAC) on  the well deck aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3).

Lance Cpl. Tyler Ragsac (front) and Cpl. Jonathan Busby USS KEARSARGE, AT SEA

Lance Cpl. Tyler Ragsac (front) and Cpl. Jonathan Busby perform routine maintenance on a light armored vehicle (LAV) in the well deck aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). 
U.S. Navy photo Specialist 3rd Class Karen Blankenship

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Master Sgt. Andrew Jones, the operations chief Bravo Co., Two LAR

Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, was on annual training at Lejune  firing shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon (SMAW) and AT-4 rocket launchers as part of their training. 

story by Cpl.P.Clark:
“This is our annual training and re-familiarization with the weapons we usually don’t get to shoot,” said Master Sgt. Andrew Jones, the operations chief with Bravo Co. “We typically can only do this once or twice a year, so it’s really beneficial when we are given the opportunity.”
Once they finished the dry runs, they shot spotting rounds at the decommissioned tanks used as targets to make sure they were accurate. Then they took their positions with the AT-4s, loaded the 83mm rockets into the SMAWs and began firing at the objective.
“You never know when you’re going to be deployed and you will be required to use these weapon systems,” said Jones. “It is pretty essential that all the Marines here can be familiar with them.”
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Pfc. Colby Williams, Bravo 2LAR

Pfc. Colby Williams fires an AT-4 rocket at a simulated dummy tank target. Marines and sailors from Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, shot shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon and AT-4 rocket launchers a part of training April 17, 2013. photo Cpl. P.Clark

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Lance Cpl. Christopher Ott, Bravo 2LAR

Lance Cpl. Christopher Ott,  Bravo Company, fires an AT-4 rocket launcher at a dummy tank target. Marines and sailors from Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion,  shot shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon and AT-4 rocket launchers a part of  training April 17, 2013. photo Cpl.P.Clark

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sgt. Joshua Kelly,Charlie Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion,

Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion evaluates squad leaders on live-fire exerciseCpl. Phillip Clark
Marines and sailors with Charlie Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, conducted a live-fire company exercise as a part of deployment preparation, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 9-11, 2013. Marines with the scout squad move down the tree line to prepare to assault the enemy position.
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Marines and sailors with Charlie Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, conducted a live-fire company exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, April 9-11, 2013.

As a part of their deployment readiness program, the training consisted of day and night fires requiring the Marines to assault in groups across the range and eliminate enemy targets.

As one squad assaulted from close proximity, machine gunners suppressed upcoming enemy targets from a distance.

“We are assessing the squad leader’s ability to maneuver in a fighting squad with supporting arms from (machine guns),” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Kelly, the platoon sergeant with 2nd platoon. “The scout squad moves down range through the tree line and once they have eyes on the target, they call in for support. Then the squad will maneuver out of the tree line with accurate suppression from the machine guns to assault through the objective.”

Training like this is very important. Marines will practice and run multiple repetitions before they deploy.

“Training like this is absolutely essential for all the Marines from senior to junior because it’s all about getting back to the basics,” said Kelly. “It helps build that muscle memory so when we deploy if we are ever in this scenario the Marines can react quickly and proficiently to complete the task.”

For a lot of the Marines this was a new exercise they had never done before since coming to the unit.

“We have a really young squad, and it’s nice to get them out here to train on something other than just bounding. Usually there is more stuff going on in your surroundings, so it also helps getting them used to that,” said Lance Cpl. Mitchell Dowd, a team leader with alpha section, 1st platoon. “It gives them a bigger view on how support-by-fire works and how using all the elements together like assaulting and accurate suppression help us complete the mission.”

After the Marines finished the scenario they regrouped to have a discussion to identify their strengths and deficiencies in their attack.

“We have been working the past few weeks trying to get the kinks out since this is our first live-fire range as a squad,” said Dowd. “So far there haven’t been many mistakes that we can’t fix on the next run through. Everyone – including myself – can understand when we see something happen; how we can improve on it to make it more efficient.”

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Pvt. First Class Brent Vasa Two LAR

Pvt. First Class Brent Vasa graduated the School of Infantry at MCB Camp Pendleton, CA.  sand is now stationed at Camp Legune, N.C. with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance, Bravo Company, Weapons Platoon.

Gunnery Sgt. Charles Dozier, maintenance chief, Company A, 3rd LAR,

by Cpl. Ali Azimi
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - The Light Armored Vehicle is an eight-wheeled armored transport used by light armored reconnaissance units. They are versatile assets in combat and keeping them in the fight requires experience and ingenuity from their mechanics. LAV mechanics’ time in the field and experience teaches them how to keep them operating. They can spot problems in LAVs from dozens of yards away, just by the color of the smoke coming from the exhaust or the sound and repetition of the weapon systems firing.

The mechanics of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance are responsible for maintenance and upkeep of all their LAVs, from the engineering aspects to the optics and weapons systems. These complex machines are used to their fullest capabilities and keeping them running requires constant up-keep.

“Routine maintenance in the LAV world is a hard thing to say,” said Sgt. Brandon McKinley, assistant maintenance chief, 3rd LAR. “It’s always something different. Just this week we’ve had a turbo go down, we’ve had two guns go down for multiple problems, a feeder go down, a receiver go down and a flat tire or two. It all kind of rotates. Everyone will all of a sudden focus on one thing and another problem comes up, so it’s a rolling cycle.”

Gunnery Sgt. Charles Dozier, maintenance chief, Company A, 3rd LAR, has also served as the senior instructor for the LAV mechanics school in Maryland. He has seen the progress Marines make from the time of their arrival to the school house to making repairs in the field.

“Some of the students would come in with little or no mechanical knowledge,” Dozier said. “They wouldn’t know the difference between a Philips screwdriver and a flat-head screwdriver. It is basically the crawl, walk then run method.”

The more time they spend in the field with the LAVs the better they get to know them. Each noise and movement has its purpose and when something is out of place it’s apparent.

“After a while, you listen to the gun and you can hear if something is going mechanically wrong,” Dozier said. “Just by doing it for a long time you get a feel of what the LAV is saying to you without actually looking at it. We’ve got keen senses. We know what sounds right and we know what sounds wrong.”

During the units’ Table 6 qualifications at Range 500 April 12, Dozier and McKinley knew there was something wrong with an LAV they saw firing on the line before it was even brought to them.

The crank to the ballistic cover that protects LAV’s optic glass had broken and the cover had fallen closed on the sights. The problem, although small in comparison to other potential mechanical malfunctions, prevented the crewmen from being able to see.

McKinley hopped into the LAV to examine the problem. After a few minutes and with the use of 550-Cord, the LAV was cleared to return to training.

Although this was only a temporary solution, it allowed the LAV to finish its qualification while the mechanics ordered the correct parts to permanently resolve the issue when they return to mainside.

“We don’t have our big work benches or the parts readily available but we manage pretty well,” McKinley said.

Light Armored Vehicle mechanics are limited in their resources in the field and on deployments. They make do with what they have in their Light Armored Vehicle Recovery and Light Armored Vehicle Logistics platforms. These vehicles carry the only parts and tools available to the mechanics, such as drills and power packs, and are able to tow any LAV deemed beyond repair outside the wire.

The Marines with 3rd LAR make do with what they have and do so constantly to keep up with mission requirements.

“The other night we were up until one and reveille was at seven,” McKinley said. “It makes it a long 18-hour-day when you’re up working constantly.”

The constant wear-and-tear of the vehicles is increased as they push through the unforgiving desert environment. The sands, winds, and terrain create more problems, keeping the mechanics busy and versatile in the field. This is an important trait to have when dealing with such a similar environment during combat operations in Afghanistan.

“Out in the field, we have more conditions to deal with. We have to be prepared to support all 26 vehicles with minimal amounts of support,” Dozier said. “We do a lot of improvisational fixes to make sure the vehicles can safely conduct their mission. There are a lot less resources out here. We don’t have the parts supply that we do when we’re in garrison. Out in the field environment my mechanics have to think on their feet.”

3rd LAR’s mechanics stay flexible in the way they think and work as problems arise and keep a strong work ethic in order to meet the mission demands of the battalion.

“We work 24 hours a day, seven days a week if need be,” Dozier said. “It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night it is, we always have to be ready to support the mission.”

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