MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Feb. 22) --
Battery B of the 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion conducted a field exercise Feb. 22 - 25 aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in preparation for air defense missions and military operations on urban terrain.
“We’re training to meet the training readiness standards of 2nd LAAD” said 1st Lt. Chad N. Weatherald executive officer of Battery B, 2nd LAAD. “Our primary mission is to provide ground based air defense against low flying aircraft. Our secondary mission is to provide perimeter security for an airfield against ground forces. Patrols, Entry Control Points, towers, any kind of perimeter security is part of the basic training we have for the LAAD training.”
The battery first trained to perfect its techniques of point defense and defense of a convoy.
Point defense includes Marines setting up static positions to control a specific portion of airspace. A team then took a position and camouflaged it with overhead brush and camouflage netting. After the position was set up, the Marines watched the sky for hostile aircraft. If hostile aircraft were spotted within range, the Marines engaged them with Stinger surface-to-air missiles.
Defense of a convoy is conducted by a number of humvees armed with medium and heavy machine guns. If hostile aircraft were spotted, the convoy stopped and the Marines performed the quick response drill of exiting their vehicles, unlimbering their Stinger missiles, and engaging the aircraft. If the convoy came under small arms fire, the convoy would return fire with their mounted machine guns.
During the convoy training, HMLA-167 aircraft provided targets in order for Battery B to fire its inert training Stingers and later provided training for the evacuation of mock casualties by helicopter.
During day two of training, 2nd LAAD focused on the ground defense aspect of its mission. The Marines conducted mounted patrols through a hostile town with enemy fighters and IEDs. They practiced room clearing to engage and eliminate the enemy. They also practiced their scanning methods to detect and circumvent the IEDs.
The other half of their training included manning the entry control point of a forward operating base. They were faced with multiple scenarios of hostiles attempting to infiltrate the base with weapons, suicide IEDs and other illegal contraband.
“It’s ultimately to get us prepared for combat operations,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jerry D. Brown, operations chief for Battery B, 2nd LAAD. “The purpose of this operation is to get us ready for our next operation, which will be at Fort Pickett in Virginia. Instead of blanks, we’ll be using live rounds, so this is like a rehearsal for the much bigger operation coming up.”
Despite a few rough edges, the Marines feel that they are learning much from their leaders.
“I felt that it was a good opportunity to learn about stuff that we’re going to do if and when we deploy,” said Nicholas G. Torcia, assistant Stinger gunner for 2nd LAAD. “There are a lot of people here who have already done it, so it was a good opportunity to pick their brains for information about it. We are definitely a lot more prepared for if we do any sort of work up.”