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9th ESB Marines become M240B experts

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CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan — Marines with 9th Engineer Support Battalion trained with M240B medium machine guns at Gun Point 201, a live-fire range here, Aug. 18.

The 9th ESB Marines with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, fired the weapons from bipods, tripods and turret mounts atop a Humvee in preparation for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

The training increased junior Marines’ confidence with the weapon systems, explained Gunnery Sgt. Ryan M. Pieraccini, assistant operations chief, 9th ESB.

“We wanted to maximize the opportunity for our most junior gunners, get them out there and get them more familiar with the (M240),” said Pieraccini.

“These are some of the Marines identified as our machine gunners for Alpha Company and Security Platoon. They are our least experienced,” said Pieraccini. “This training is very important for their employment of the weapon systems.”

The 20 Marines, firing 200 to 400 rounds each, focused on familiarizing themselves with manipulating the different M240 mounts and methods of employment in combat.

“How the gun recoils into the shoulder is different from the bipod to the tripod and the turret mount,” said Staff Sgt. Randy L. Ellison, range safety officer, 9th ESB. “(While using the turret mount), they need to stand in a cramped position and just trying to get behind the gun is different, and the turret is where they will mainly use the gun in combat.”

It was important for the Marines to become familiar with the different mounts as each mount is used for a different tactical situation, Ellison added.

“The tripod is more of a defensive, perimeter weapon; the bipod is more for patrol,” explained Ellison.

In Afghanistan, the Marines would use the M240 from a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle instead of a Humvee when employing the turret mount, but the training would still apply, added Pieraccini.

During one portion of the training, the Marines were required to perform a series of physical exercises intended to replicate the strains and stresses of combat before they then had to operate the machine guns, said Pieraccini.

“It is a different story (using the M240B), when you just put your machine gun on the turret or bipod and load and conduct battle drills as compared to being stressed and under fire,” said Pieraccini. “(The physical exercises) give you a better understanding of what it would be like in actual combat. It gets you to control your breathing and makes it a little bit more difficult to do the simple things.”

Some of the Marines participating said they appreciated the extra effort put forth for realism in the training evolution.

“The training goes more in depth on communication between gunners and (traversing and adjustments),” said Lance Cpl. Albert A. Vargas-Rodriquez, assistant gunner, 9th ESB. “(The physical exercises) tested our endurance. In combat, you might be running for a long period of time, and you might need to engage the enemy out of nowhere, so it just tests how your body reacts to those kinds of situations.”

The M240B training will help prepare the Marines with all aspects of the weapon’s use and prepare them for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, Pieraccini said.

“If the bad guys want to come after us because they think we are a soft target,” said Piercing, “then our Marines will be ready to engage them with confidence and technical expertise.”

Article by Marine Corps Bases Japan