Marines shielded their eyes the best they could as a sand storm moved across the firing-range. Wind-speeds reached more than 30 miles-per-hour, which made a dead-center shot at more than 500 yards seem impossible. What may have seemed unfeasible was made achievable by the scout snipers of Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They flawlessly brought down targets at a firing-range near Camp Buehring during Exercise Eager Mace 13, Nov. 10.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps participated in an annual bilateral training exercise with Kuwaiti Armed Forces Nov. 11-21 called, Eager Mace. The purpose of this exercise was to expand levels of cooperation, enhance mutual maritime capabilities, as well as promote long-term regional stability and interoperability between U.S. forces and regional partners.
During this training event, the Scout Sniper Platoon from Weapons Company went to one of many firing ranges around Camp Buehring and trained alongside a Kuwaiti Armed Forces unit. The team helped teach some basic marksmanship skills to junior members of the Kuwaiti military.
“We assisted with teaching basic marksmanship skills for the Kuwaiti soldiers,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan Stocking, platoon sergeant, Scout Sniper Platoon, Weapons Company, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “It’s good that we can train them, so that they have the capability to protect themselves.”
The real work was done within the Scout Sniper Platoon, as they took advantage of the unique training opportunities the firing range provided.
“At the range we practiced quite a lot of advanced marksmanship techniques in simulated combat surroundings,” said Stocking. “Camp Pendleton doesn’t facilitate this kind of training. Because of the range’s size and facilities, we were allowed to practice more advanced drills that we wouldn’t be able to simulate at most [military] bases back home. As Marines, we know these techniques by the book, but we can truly prove the concept at this range.”
The range also provided a unique training environment, compared to the platoon’s home base of Camp Pendleton. The high winds, dust clouds and terrain features, that comprise the region, gave the snipers a new challenge to build on and improve their skills.
“I always enjoy an opportunity to train somewhere different,” said Cpl. Dakota Mortensen, a scout sniper with the platoon. “We had an opportunity to zero our weapons to meet this type of environment. We can use the data we gathered to prepare us for any possible contingencies in the future. This is also our first opportunity we’ve had on deployment to fire our weapons and knock the rust off,” added the 25-year-old, Ephraim, Utah native.
In order to hone their craft, the 14-man team conducted a number of maneuvers including unknown distance, limited exposure and movement to contact drills.
“I enjoyed being with the platoon and having all day to concentrate on shooting,” added Stocking, a 29-year-old, Phoenix, Ariz. native. “We took the opportunity to find and correct deficiencies. Everyday we increased the distance, decreased the target size and changed weapon systems. By throwing different variables at the snipers we made it harder, but it made them better.”
By shooting from early morning until dawn, braving sand storms and an unfamiliar environment, the scout snipers were challenged, and were able to effectively train and learn alongside Kuwaiti soldiers.
The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a theater reserve and crisis response force throughout U.S. Central Command and the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Article by Cpl. Timothy Childers, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit