TIGERCOMP XVI - Tank Gunnery Competition
by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Tayler Schwamb
The hot California sun beamed, drawing beads of sweat, but the
U.S. Marines, Vietnam veterans and members of the local community
were heedless. Hands holding phones, binoculars and video cameras
hovered as they anxiously waited for another ground shaking
A murmur erupted from the sweat-slicked crowd
perched on top of the Range 409A observation point as 4th Tank
Battalion’s M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank fired another dead-center
hit during TIGERCOMP August 29 aboard Marine Corps Base Camp
An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle
Tank fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition, TIGERCOMP on
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton on August 29, 2019.
TIGERCOMP is an annual force competition that determines the
Marine Corps’ most lethal tank crew. The winning crew, 4th
Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve,
will have the opportunity represent the Marine Corps in the
Sullivan Cup, which is the Army’s total force tank gunnery
competition. (U.S. Marine photo by Sgt. Tayler Schwamb)
According to Lt. Col. Matthew Zummo, the commanding officer of
1st Tank Battalion, TIGERCOMP has been the Marine Corps tank gunnery
competition since 1996. The three Marine Tank Battalions compete to
determine the Corps’ most lethal tank crew. Following a six-year
break from 2003-2009, the competition was reignited in 2010.
“First Tanks is hosting this year’s competition,” said Zummo.
“We selected Range 409A as the venue to enable a better spectator
experience compared to the usual Range 500 at 29 Palms. The winning
crew will have the opportunity to compete in the Sullivan Cup, which
is the Army’s total force tank gunnery competition.”
Hand-selected Marines from across the Corps, active duty and
reserve, traveled to Camp Pendleton to compete in the tank gunnery
competition. TIGERCOMP consisted of a physical training competition,
call for fire and vehicle identification.
the companies want to dig a little deeper to be the top shooters,”
said Sgt. Johnathan Wright, the tank commander of 4th Tank
Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve.
Throughout four days before the competition, the Marines executed a
total of 10 engagements prepping the teams for their final grading
On the first day, the Marines woke up before the sun
to compete in a physical training competition. The physical training
test started with the longest two minutes imaginable. The Marines
had two minutes to complete as many clean-and-presses with a 50
pound heat round.
Immediately after, the Marines were handed
pieces of tank track. Once they held the chunks of track, the
Marines began the 500-meter track shuffle.
“The PT was …
strenuous,” said Wright, rubbing the back of his neck. “Then we did
a tow cable drag, you do a bear crawl with the tow cable, stand up
and run back; but, the most difficult part was the road wheel drag.”
The Marines were given tires from the tanks, known as road
wheels, and told to keep two hands on it at all times. To finish the
PT test, the huffing participants competed in a one-mile boots and
utes run. In the afternoon, the Marines began their shooting workup
On the second day, the teams picked two or three of
their best Marines to compete in a call for fire. A call for fire is
a commonly used request providing succinct messages that determine
the best methods of attack.
On the third day, the Marines
began their armored vehicle identification test. The test included
American and Russian modes of transportation, helicopters and
thermal images. The Marines glanced at the image for 10 seconds, and
then hastily scribbled. On the fourth day, the Marines finished
their workup program.
On the fifth day, veterans and members
of the local community gathered alongside Marines to watch the tanks
compete and revel in the tanks’ lethal accuracy.
In the end,
4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve,
collected the enormous TIGERCOMP trophy, the pride and joy of the
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