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Lance Cpl. Ethan Evans (left), a motor transport mechanic with 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group, instructs Lance Cpl. Jacob Levy, a ground electronic maintenance technician with 6th ANGLICO, on the M249 squad automatic weapon range Jan 23, 2016 at Camp Roberts, Calif. The Marines of 6th ANGLICO conducted call-for-fire exercises and machine gun ranges alongside mortar platoons from 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, to complete comprehensive live-fire training.

Photo by Cpl. Tiffany Edwards

6th ANGLICO conducts live-fire training with 2/23 Mortars

1 Feb 2016 | Cpl. Tiffany Edwards Marine Corps Forces Reserves

As clouds rolled across the wide California sky, sending shadows racing across the green hills in Camp Roberts National Guard training center, thundering booms echoed through the valley as mortars found their targets. Half a mile away, Marines with 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company relayed target trajectories and coordinates to the mortarmen of 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. The units partnered together Jan. 23, 2016 to conduct live call-for-fire training with mortars, as well as machine gun ranges to qualify their Marines.

“For this drill weekend, our mission was to conduct indirect and supporting arms training,” said Col. Seth Milstein, 6th ANGLICO commanding officer. “We completed that in conjunction with a mortar platoon from 2/23, as well as continued illumination fire and machine gun ranges for our Headquarters and Service element and brigade element.”

Since its inception in 2013, 6th ANGLICO faces unique challenges as a young unit, which includes quickly retraining Marines in new military occupation specialties to bring the unit to the optimum readiness level. ANGLICO Marines often train with virtual simulators, so having the chance to complete live-fire training was a crucial step to reaching the unit’s training and readiness levels.

“As a newer unit, we face a number of interesting challenges, the biggest being getting our Marines through the high-demand, low-density school seats to complete their training and specialty requirements,” Milstein said. “It’s the issue of forming these teams and developing their skills to the level that’s required to maintain optimum unit functionality.”

The Marines of 6th ANGLICO provided target coordinates and trajectories for the mortar platoons to affect with suppressive fire, illuminating fire, or fire-for-effect drills.  In addition to the live-fire training, training alongside the mortar men from 2/23 gave the unit unexpected benefits.

“There is no substitute for live-fire training,” Milstein said. “Being able to participate in live-fire drills with indirect fire units is valuable training for the Marines, and also gives other units insight into our capabilities and functions as an ANGLICO unit.”

According to Milstein, much of the Marine Corps’ ANGLICO capabilities have been shifted to the reserves. In recent years, there has been heavier use of Reserve units to fulfill capabilities which cannot be covered by the active component due to budget restrictions. This means it is imperative to have all Reserve Marines fully and comprehensively trained for missions that may surface at any time.

“They are building better unit integrity at the small unit level,” Milstein said. “Our firepower control teams and supporting arms liaison teams have the opportunity to work together to complete basic ANGLICO training readiness standards, particularly on indirect fire support, with firepower support teams working with their headquarters element, the supporting arms liaison teams.”

The ANGLICO Marines were able to practice technical proficiencies unique to their mission such as radio functions, etiquette, programing and troubleshooting, as well as call-for fire formats.

“We often train using virtual simulations, so conducting live-fire training with a different unit exposes us to the many variables that can come about in combat situations, which gives us experience in how to deal with those variables,” said Sgt. Christopher Cropley, a forward observer with 6th ANGLICO. “This has been a valuable experience for myself and my fellow Marines. Our technical proficiency is something that needs to be practiced regularly, and conducting live-fire training is invaluable for that.”

The brief training exercise allowed 6th ANGLICO to hone their skills in forward observation and indirect fire, leaving the California hills speckled with smoking craters. Despite the challenges it faces, the young unit aims for explosive development into a formidable element in the Marine Corps Reserve’s ongoing mission to remain technically and tactically proficient.

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