ARMY NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER FORT IRWIN, Calif. – The drivers
killed the lights, and the light armored vehicles set out as
darkness swallowed the road ahead. The Marines with 1st Light
Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, nicknamed the Highlanders, peered
through the curtain of black as they cautiously rolled through the
deserted path during a weeklong field exercise here, Nov. 18 through
24, 2013.The road turned into a narrow tunnel of grainy, green
images as the drivers turned on their night vision devices.
Lance Cpl. Tyler Smith, scout, Delta Company, 1st Light Armored
Reconnaissance Battalion, a native of Oklahoma City, fires his rifle
at unknown distance targets at night during a weeklong field
exercise here Nov. 18 through 24, 2013. The scouts have a hard time
with night shoots because the targets become hard to pick out. Lance
Cpl. Eric Bernes, an LAV crewman with Delta Co., said they have to
adapt and overcome to accomplish the mission. (U.S. Marine Corps
photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Moore)
“We have to be much more disciplined when we're scanning,
using night vision goggles,” said Sgt. Christopher Clifton,
a light armored vehicle crewman with Delta Company, 1st LAR.
“That's why training at night is good for us. Night is the
most difficult time because it's dark and we can't see much.
So it makes everything we're doing harder.”
a great time to attack because people tend to get tired and
complacent, said Clifton, who has deployed to Iraq and
Afghanistan. They let their guard down.
commanders kept constant radio contact with one another, and
reported back to headquarters.
“The command tells us
where the waypoints are and where we are going to end up,”
said Lance Cpl. Eric Bernes, an LAV crewman with Delta Co.,
and a native of Richmond, Va. “In case a vehicle goes down,
they need to know as soon as possible to make sure everyone
is keeping up.”
During the maneuver, the LAV crewmen constantly scanned the range
for pop-up targets that consisted of enemy troops and vehicles that
the crew located and destroyed with live fire. The crew trained on
the range for a couple of hours and the targets popped up at random.
This forced the crew to always be on the alert. They never knew
exactly when or where the targets would appear. The scouts had a
hard time because their eyes started to get fatigued from the night
vision goggles and targets became hard to pick out, said Clifton.
A light armored vehicle with Delta Company, 1st Light Armored
Reconnaissance Battalion rests at the staging area before the
maneuver began during a weeklong field exercise here, Nov. 18
through 24, 2013. The night maneuvers the Marines executed helped
them maintain combat readiness and prepared them for upcoming
deployments in support of the Marine expeditionary units (MEUs).
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Moore)
The weather presented more challenges while the Marines executed
the night maneuver and live fire in rain and temperatures below
“We don't always have the best weather,” Bernes
said. “We get cold, wet and our fingers get numb. We have to learn
to adapt and overcome and do our job when the conditions are
The Marines understand the importance of
conducting live fire ranges in arduous conditions to better prepare
them for operations overseas.
“Training like this gives us a
chance to show Marines how ready they are after the exercise,” said
Clifton, a native of Fairfield. “It allows Marines actual gun time
as opposed to the computer simulation. They're actually out there so
they have to deal with real gun jams and difficult weather to train
in. We gain better crew cohesion and that's the best way to prepare
Marines for deployment.”
The night maneuvers and live fire
exercises the Marines executed helped them maintain combat readiness
and prepared them for upcoming deployments in support of the Marine
expeditionary units (MEUs). When the companies with 1st LAR come
together, they will prove they are a deadly force.
By USMC Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Moore
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