CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina --
A select group of Marines with 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine
Regiment are undergoing an artillery section chief’s course aboard Camp
Lejeune, North Carolina, July 13-Aug. 12, 2015.
The nearly five-week long training evolution teaches
students proper functioning of the M252 and M327 Mortars and M777A2 Howitzer in
preparation for becoming section chiefs. According to students, becoming a
section chief requires acute knowledge of both the weapon system and the Marines
“The section chief is responsible for the Marines in his
section for the safe firing of the weapon systems,” said Cpl. Hayden Jolly, a
field artillery cannoneer and course student. “You’re in charge of eight to 10
Marines, all of their gear, and their lives. It’s a big responsibility.”
Typically, a section chief oversees a team of five Marines,
all of which have different tasks and responsibilities when firing their
specific weapon system. He directs the gunner, who manipulates the sights and
traversing and elevating hand wheels and the assistant gunner, who loads the
rounds into the chamber and fires the weapon. The fourth and fifth Marines
within the section are responsible for delivering and tracking all ammunition.
Before learning to take charge, the students ran back through
the basics in order to cement the proper fundamentals.
“[We’re learning] everything from basic nomenclature and
parts of the weapons systems to ammunition, verifying safety standards and
preventative maintenance,” said Cpl. Taylor Roepke, a field artillery cannoneer
and course student.
The course progressed by teaching the Marines more nuanced
techniques of the different artillery weapon systems, helping transfer the
skills practiced into real-world training and potential operations.
“Having more section chiefs brings more knowledge to the
unit,” said Roepke. “Even if you aren’t given charge of a weapon immediately,
you’ll help improve your section’s efficiency, both in garrison and in combat.”
“We train as we fight,” said Jolly. “When we’re training and
conducting fire missions, it’s just as if we were in a combat situation. Of
course there’s more stress in a combat scenario, but under stress, you revert
back to your basic training, which this course prepares you for.”
The students are scheduled to graduate Aug. 12. Not all of
the graduates will take command of weapon system once leaving the course, but
the Marines say the newly-learned skills will benefit their unit, no matter
which tasks they’re assigned.