CORAL SEA, QLD, AUSTRALIA --
Infantrymen are the fighting force of the Marine Corps, and with these Marines come a variety of weapon systems and vehicles to accomplish a wide range of missions. These are the responsibilities entrusted to the Marines of Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. Currently attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, aboard the USS Wasp (LHD 1), Weapons Company, BLT 2/1 is ready to put their training to the test during Talisman Sabre 2019.
Weapons Company has six assets that have a variety of capabilities, according to 1st Lt. Michael Downing, Light Armored Reconnaissance platoon commander with Weapons Company. Weapons Company is composed of two Combined Anti-Armor Team platoons which use up-armored Humvee gun-trucks, an 81 millimeter mortar platoon, a Light Armored Reconnaissance platoon with light armored vehicles, a Surveillance and Target Acquisition platoon, and a Fire Support Coordination Center to coordinate fires across all aerial and ground assets
Supporting different units such as the Maritime Raid Force, which is composed of Force Reconnaissance and Amphibious Reconnaissance Marines, and Echo Company, the BLT’s vertical assault company, as well as by task organizing two of their platoons into Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel platoons, Weapons Company is able to provide the combat power that each unit may need to accomplish the mission.
“Weapons Company provides an extensive range of capabilities that are essential to any battalion: we provide protection, security, and the ability to retrieve personnel and aircraft,” said 1st Lt. Hunter Doliber, 81 millimeter mortar platoon commander with Weapons Company. “Our ability to be either in direct or general support of such diverse units is what makes us so unique.”
Each platoon in Weapons Company serves an essential role to any unit they support, according to Cpl. Jonathan A. Sturgon, an 81 millimeter mortar squad leader with Weapons Company. When people think of the infantry, they may typically envision a traditional rifle company, however, Cpl. Sturgon says the wide range of capabilities that Weapons Company can bring to the table is unique.
Advanced training and qualifications are required for every company in the battalion and the Marines with Weapons Company are no exception. Weapons Company Marines get opportunities to qualify in skills such as fast rope master course, assault climbers course, and Master Gunners course, along with many others.
According to Lt. Downing, though the different platoons train separately during much of their pre-deployment workup, Weapons Company has the ability to adapt and work with any unit they come in contact with.
“For us, our pre-deployment work ups can range from 12 to 18 months,” said Lt. Doliber. “During this time, we conduct training exercises and send our Marines to advanced courses so that once we start our deployment the Marines are ready to go out on any assignment their platoon is given and are able to complete the mission.”
According to Doliber, this specialized training gives the Marines the edge and knowledge they need to accomplish the missions expected of them, whether it’s rapidly reaching an objective from a helicopter by fast roping, saving Marines lives if an aircraft goes down, or spearheading an assault on enemy armored assets.
“The capabilities and resourcefulness of the Marines in each of the individual platoons have developed and grown,” said Lt. Downing. “Even in the restricted training environment on ship, seeing their drive to keep up the training in Weapons Company has been a very rewarding experience. We are excited to showcase all of our capabilities during Talisman Sabre and see all of our Marines’ hard work pay off.”