Commanding Officer
Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Connor J. Shellabarger, a machine gunner for Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, listens in along with his junior Marine, on the corrections his instructor has for him during a machine gun course aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 4, 2015. Shellabarger is bonding with his junior Marine to create the camaraderie Marines are known for.

Photo by Pfc. Alvin Pujols

3/5 machine gunners refresh their skills

12 Feb 2015 | Pfc. Alvin Pujols 1st Marine Division

Machine gun sections with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division began a refresher course on machine gun nomenclature, optics and operations aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 2, 2015. The fire command and control class is conducted the first week of the three-weeklong course and is vital to the foundational skills of the Marines. 

Fire command and control entails acquiring an ADDRAC, which stands for Alert, Direction, Description, Range, Assignment, and Control. The ADDRAC is used to communicate between a squad a leader and his machine gunners. Fire command and control also includes gun drills and displacement drills used to hone the Marines’ skills to move quickly and correctly. 

“Knowledge and skill are perishable without continuing training and practice,” said Cpl. Gabriel Espinoza, a squad leader for Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine and instructor for the course. “We like brilliance with the basics.” 

This method brings brilliance in all aspects of being a machine gunner, said Espinoza.

Sgt. Hector E. Villalobos, the machine gun chief instructor for Division Schools, wants a course that provides team building for the new Marines. 

The course has become a lot more detailed since Cpl. Dillon Apel, a squad leader with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, went through in 2012. 

“The course is more in-depth with the content,” said Apel. “For some of the junior Marines it is their first time doing a gun drill, so it’s important to be taught in-depth.” 

Apel saw a vast improvement in his junior Marines from when they first began. 

These drills are a great opportunity for the junior Marines to work with their counterparts, said Apel.

The squad leaders and section leaders take these courses as chances to start building relationships with their new Marines. Building these relationships creates fluidity in combat, which makes it easier to create new standard operating procedures within the squads, explained Apel. 

As their culminating event the machine gun sections will join their mortar and anti-armor counterparts in a live-fire event.

Completion of the course ensures the combat readiness of the machine gunners with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, making sure they are always equipped with the knowledge to successfully carry out the mission.