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MPs improve light-infantry warfighting skills

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In the hot, humid afternoon hours of Sept. 1, with the sun beaming through the sky, Humvees with mounted M240B machine guns and M249 squad automatic weapons were positioned to fire rounds on Range 7 in the Central Training Area.

The Marines of Military Police Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, were on Range 7 for live-fire training with weapons systems valuable to the Marine Corps’ light-infantry fighting methods.

The training the 46 Marines received focused on the small-unit leadership needed in a combat environment, said Capt. Michael A. Sickels, commander of MP Co.

The training was a refresher for some of the company’s Marines and an enhancement for Marines new to the company.

“It’s been a while since they’ve been able to come out here and shoot, and a lot of them just came out of the schoolhouse,” said Sgt. Jason A. Lichtefeld, a military policeman with MP Co.

The main goal of training was getting the Marines comfortable with the weapons systems and the new machine gun day optic that mounts on the M240B machine gun, which has been fielded for use in combat in Afghanistan, added Lichtefeld. The MDO is intended to aid machine gunners in target detection, recognition and identification.

One of MP Co.’s missions is to support units deployed to combat zones, making sustained combat readiness extremely important, Sickels said.

“They are out there supporting various units in Afghanistan and in the Philippines,” Sickels added.

The Marines have to be trained and capable of performing their mission in any environment, and sometimes that mission requires employing crew-served weapons, he said.

The Marines fired the crew-served weapons at targets ranging from 300 to 500 meters away.

Each Marine fired at least 200 rounds for each weapon system. Once Marines received their ammunition, they were ready to sight in, assume a prone position or jump in a turret and put rounds down range.

“The Marines stepped up. They were loud; they were motivated,” said Lichtefeld. “The Marines came up there (to the firing point) ready to engage targets, doing all they (could) and being as loud as possible.”

“They were all eager to learn,” added Sickels. “These Marines were like a sponge. They’re taking the knowledge that’s being shared with them from Marines that have been deployed.”

“This was pretty important, especially for what we’ll be doing in Afghanistan with convoys and patrols,” said Lance Cpl. Jared B. Charles, a military policeman with MP Co. “It’s not every day on Okinawa we get to come out here and shoot.

Article by Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr., Marine Corps Bases Japan