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4th LAR locks on mortars before deployment

17 Jul 2009 | Cpl. Daniel A. Blatter 1st Marine Division

Knowing they’re getting ready to join the fight, Marines with 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion trained with 1st Marine Division to prepare for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

More than 130 Marines from 4th LAR Bn. traveled from their home in Frederick, Md., to Camp Pendleton where they completed one two-week session of annual training, July 17.

“This is our pre, pre-deployment training,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua F. Work, a primary plotter with Company B, 4th LAR. “We will be coming back again on Aug. 2 for more workups for deployment.”

Approximately 20 of these Marines received the opportunity to attend a mortars class taught by 1st Mar Div’s Division Schools. The course was used to train these Marines as they prepare to replace 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Afghanistan this fall.

“This class starts at the basic level and is a good starting point for many Marines who aren’t mortarmen by trade,” said Sgt. James A. Martinez, a platoon sergeant with Weapons Platoon, Company B, 4th LAR. “We are mainly learning gunnery skills to help the gun line get better at their fire support.”

Many of the Marines attending this course have already learned the basic skills of a mortar specialist while at the School of Infantry. This course refreshed the Marines’ skills taught at SOI and also gave them many supplementary skills to use while in combat.

“These (students) had a higher skill level than I was expecting,” said Sgt. Miguel D. Hernandez, the head gun line instructor for the intermediate mortar course at Division Schools. “Normally this course is a three-week course, but for them we had to condense everything down into eight days of training.”

Although the course was shortened, the Marines of 4th LAR still received the skill sets and knowledge needed to complete the mission.

“Basically what we are trying to get out of this course is proficiency and speed,” said Martinez, 26, from Andreas, Pa. “The faster we are, the faster we get indirect fire support to our element down range. We will save lives or bring hurt to the enemy.

“We don’t always have time to practice and we rarely get to go the range to fire, so this is wholly beneficial to us, especially being a reserve unit,” said Martinez. “This not only helps us be cognizant of what we are doing, it helps us be able to do it very quickly.”

1st Marine Division