Forward observers guide rounds during ARTP 14-2

by Sgt. Matthew Manning, III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office
U.S. Marine Corps

YAUSUBETSU MANEUVER AREA, HOKKAIDO, Japan -- During any live-fire artillery training, success is based on achieving a level of proficiency, not on the number of rounds fired.

For Marines taking part in Artillery Relocation Training Program 14-2, forward observers with the fire support teams ensure this level of proficiency is met by accurately directing fire support onto targets.

“We call in and adjust artillery fire in support of ground units,” said Lance Cpl. Collin C. Osgood, a Salmon, Idaho native and fire support man with 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “The first step in calling fire missions is finding a good observer position so we can positively identify hostile threats. From there, we can use a map and compass to determine the grid for the target or we can use a rangefinder and GPS.”

After determining the enemy’s location, the fire support team will begin calls for fire, according to Cpl. Devin S. Stevens, a field radio operator with the battalion.

“The forward observers will gather data for a fire request and relay the information to the radio operator who will then send the data to a fire direction center,” said Stevens, from Roanoke, Virginia. “At the FDC they decide the best fuse, round and propellant to give to the gun line.”

After the battery fires their rounds, the forward observer will make corrections if needed or they will finalize the mission.

“Based on our distance from the target, we use the mils in our binoculars to determine how far off target a round is,” said 1st Lt. Zachary M. Kibble, a fire support officer with the battalion. “When we give corrections we will give the deviation, range and height of burst needed to neutralize the target.”

This exercise has gone really well, and both batteries are shooting accurately with the wide variety of missions they have been given, according to Kibble, from Mankato, Minnesota.

ARTP 14-2 will enhance the combat readiness of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, while fulfilling obligations under the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

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