CHOCOLATE MOUNTAIN AERIAL GUNNERY RANGE YUMA, Ariz. — Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company and 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion from Camp Pendleton, Calif., conducted combined arms attacks with air and ground assets to enhance proficiency controlling fixed wing and rotor wing aircraft during Scorpion Fire, a two-week training evolution beginning Aug.6, at two training sites outside of Yuma, Ariz.
“We’re out here supporting the wing,” said Capt. Daniel Hipol, platoon commander with 1st ANGLICO Camp Pendleton and a West Palm Beach, Fla., native.
Forward air controllers are the primary focus during the training learning to conduct air attacks, however, not only is the training for the pilots, everyone assisting benefits from the exercise.
An AH-1W Cobra shoots live ammunition at designated targets in a training site outside Yuma, Ariz., Aug. 13. Forward air controllers train to make calls to joint terminal attack controllers to call for plots where to fire ammunition.
“We’re getting a lot out of it,” said Hipol. “We have a lot of simulators back home where we get some practice talking [to the pilots], but until you can actually do something in an actual environment and get out here with real aircraft and talk to them, it’s a tremendous benefit.”
Communication is an important element in the training, if a joint terminal attack controller plots a wrong target on the map an aircraft could potentially drop a bomb on the controllers instead of the target, explained Sgt. Ryan J. Eskandary, a firepower control team chief with 1st ANGLICO and a St. Paul, Minn., native.
As with any training, there is a chance of a friendly-fire incident, but control measures to prevent such accidents are put into place. Control teams use air panels and infrared strobes to mark their position so aircraft know friendly locations, explained Eskandary.
Lance Cpl. Daniel Williams and Cpl. Riley Dobbs, mortarmen with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion Camp Pendleton, Calif., duck after firing a mortar round at a training site outside Yuma, Ariz., Aug. 13.
With these control measures in place, friendly fire is unlikely and Marines can be concerned with other hazards such as the environment.
“The biggest risk out here for this type of training is just the environment,” said, Hipol. “It’s hot, but the benefit of that is it prepares us for future deployments, where it’s hotter than this.”