Recon aims for excellence at Sandfisher

Recon aims for excellence at Sandfisher

by Cpl. Brandon Suhr
Okinawa Marine Staff

KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii - "Controlled pair to the chest; you’re going to fire two well-aimed shots when your targets appear,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah T. Dare, as Marines prepared to engage their targets. “Targets!”

Marines with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion took part in a small-arms, live-fire package Feb. 4–9 at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, as a part of Exercise Sandfisher 2014.

Sandfisher is an annual bilateral amphibious reconnaissance and combat diving exercise between an international partner nation and the U.S. Marine Corps. The exercise enhances interoperability, improves military-to-military relations, and increases collective military readiness between the services.

The weapons used during the package were the M4 service rifle, the M-27 infantry automatic rifle and the M45A1 close-quarters battle pistol.

“Throughout the week the Marines became more confident with their weapons systems,” said Dare, the operations chief for Company B, 3rd Recon Bn., 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “There are still a lot of Marines who do not have the time or chance to become more comfortable with their weapons, so when we get out here and we do repetitions it gives them that chance to become more confident with the weapons by putting rounds downrange and getting good coaching.”

Most of these Marines are relatively new to the reconnaissance field and are eager to learn new techniques, according to Dare.

The Marines were taught weapons tactics, proper hand placement, sight picture, different shooting positions, transition drills, live-immediate action drills and pistol work. The package ended with a pistol qualification course.

“It benefits us a lot. We have to teach the basics first and slowly progress to more advanced steps,” according to Cpl. Josh L. Rios, a team leader with Co. B, 3rd Recon Bn. “I think it definitely helps some of these guys to know what to do and what not to do.”
It prepares the Marines for real-life situations and builds confidence in their weapons-handling skills, according to Rios.

“The improvements I have seen in my team are leaps and bounds,” said Rios. “Over the past few days, they have shown that they (understand the training) and we can see it (by looking at their) targets. Their (target) groups are getting smaller and smaller, and they are becoming more comfortable with their weapons systems.”
During the training, the Marines were also able to complete a pistol qualification course, as well as train support elements, according to Capt. Richard A. Laszok, the executive officer for Co. B, 3rd Recon Bn.

“It has been a great opportunity for the Marines, not only to learn (to use) these weapons systems and qualify on their weapons, but we have included the support assets who have been out here,” said Laszok. “This exercise has enabled our Marines to get some instruction time as a leader and a mentor. They became a student, they learned it, and now they are teaching the material back to the Marines who have helped facilitate this exercise.”

This live-fire training was the first of two that will be conducted by the unit during the exercise, according to Laszok.

“This was based on basic fundamentals and building a solid foundation in preparation for an advanced shooting package later on in Exercise Sandfisher,” said Laszok. “We will be doing mid- to long-range shooting to include medium machine guns, heavy machine guns and the AT-4 light antiarmor weapon.”

While the training was focused on accuracy, the next course will focus on advancing what the Marines have already learned.

“This training is important because it teaches everyone how to accurately employ their weapons and gets them comfortable actually using them,” said Rios. “This package was put together very well, and our instructors did a great job of teaching us how to shoot our weapons systems.”

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