CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Enablers with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command put thousands of rounds down range to prepare to serve in combat alongside operators July 28-31 in Stone Bay’s Dodge City.
Enablers, Marines in support billets within MARSOC such as radio operators and weapons technicians, do not go through the MARSOC training pipeline as its operators do. However, they do deploy with the operators to support missions within combat environments.
The four-day Enhanced Marksmanship Program was designed to help bring the combat proficiency of enablers within MARSOC, to a level more comparable with its operators, said Capt. Michael Stevens, an officer with MARSOC, and the range safety officer during the EMP course.
“All of these guys here are getting ready to deploy sometime shortly, or in the future,” Stevens said. “With this course they’re more on par to where they need to be, so when they jump into a [pre-deployment training] cycle with an [Marine Special Operation Company] they’re able to talk the lingo and perform at a higher standard.”
Marines such as Cpl. Daniel Sartain, a radio operator with MARSOC, who has been slated to attach to an MSOC that is scheduled to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“The operators do this everyday, they practice way more than I have the ability to practice,” Sartain said. “This course has not just greatly improved my skills, but it’s given me more confidence that I won’t slow the operators down.”
The course focused on improving the Marines’ combat marksmanship in shooting an M-16A4 service rifle, M4 carbine assault rifle and M9 9mm pistol, while donning a full combat load.
The Marines fired thousands of rounds at targets while performing numerous drills meant to improve their ability to hit targets at various distances. The drills also focused on combat reloading and transitioning from a rifle to a pistol.
For many of the Marines, shooting on the run proved to be one of the most difficult portions of the course. The Marines divided into groups of three and assaulted Dodge City.
“The main purpose is to get the Marines’ hearts moving, give them a different challenge then what they are use to facing,” Stevens said. “Now that they have their heart pumping, they have their blood circulating, it creates an added degree of difficulty.”
Each team ran through the training area gunning down steel targets representing enemy insurgents. The Marines used team work to conquer obstacles such as walls and chain link fences.
Instructors presented the teams with a 240-pound simulated casualty once they reached the end of training area. They then had to run back to the start with the casualty, where they received their finishing time and a random casualty scenario.
“Confidence is everything, I’m confident now,” Sartain said. “I know how to do this and have the skills behind it, if I have to use it in battle I know what I’m doing.”