Photo Information

Sgt. Tyler Felts, an LAV crewman, sights in on a target during a live-fire gunnery qualification test with an M240B machine gun at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Jan. 22, 2016. Live-fire tests like these allow the Marines of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force to train for how they will execute their mission when they are deployed in a combat zone. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pvt. Robert Bliss)

Photo by Pvt. Robert Bliss

1st LAR trains for real-world combat

29 Jan 2016 | Pvt. Robert Bliss 1st Marine Division

The LAV-25, or light armored vehicle, is a versatile, amphibious vehicle in the Marine Corps. Its mission is to provide combined arms reconnaissance and security in support of a ground combat element. From its M242 25mm chain-driven auto cannon, to its top speed of approximately 62 mph, the LAV-25 is a useful addition to the combat capabilities of Marines serving around the globe.

To help maintain high standards, Marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion conducted a live-fire gunnery qualification test at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Jan. 22, 2016.

The qualification test consisted of gunnery marksmanship training, communication between the vehicle commander and the driver, and the cooperation between the crewmembers of each LAV and the command tower. This allowed them to fire accurately when aiming on targets down range.

“This is the most realistic firing training our vehicles can engage in,” said 2nd Lt. Austin Finnell, a platoon commander with Company B, 1st LAR, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. “This provides great preparation for long-distance firing and getting the Marines accustomed to firing the main armament of the LAV-25.”

Operating the vehicle is a complex process. Each crewmember has a specific set of tasks that must be executed before an LAV can be combat effective.

“The crew of an LAV has to work together seamlessly for us to be able to do what we do,” said Finnell, a Chesterfield, Missouri, native. “The driver has to be able to position the LAV effectively, the gunner has to be able to hit the target, and the vehicle commander has to be able to quickly issue the orders and make the call for engaging hostile forces.”

Although teamwork is a necessity for operating an LAV, it all falls upon individual Marines and their resolve to contribute to the success of the mission.

“Even when we’re not out here on the range, we’re preparing to be able to do this,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle Gaitens, an LAV crewman with Company B, 1st LAR and a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia. “We use computer simulations to help us train and hone our skills even when we’re not in the seat of an LAV.”

It isn’t just technical skills that allow an LAV crew to do what they do. It takes dedication and commitment.

“This is not a haphazard process,” said Finnell. “These Marines have to want this.”

The training methods used on the range are what allow units like 1st LAR to remain relevant in an ever-evolving battlefield. Through their hard work and resolve, they are prepared for any challenges they may face in future operations.

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