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Photo Information

Cpl. Calvin V. Montgomery uses his whole body to pull the lanyard of an M777 Howitzer, firing a 155 mm round March 11 during Dragon Fire Exercise 15-2 at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii. Howitzers are used by artillery batteries to provide suppressing fire for ground units. Montgomery, an Eatonton, Georgia, native, is a radio operator with Headquarters Battery, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Photo by Lance Cpl. William Hester

12th Marines Engage in Combined Arms During Exercise

20 Mar 2015 | Lance Cpl. William Hester 3rd Marine Division

An Okinawa based Marine Corps headquarters battery travelled to Hawaii to train directly with its subordinate artillery battery and other branches during Dragon Fire Exercise 15-2 March 3-15.

Headquarters Battery, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, stationed in Okinawa, met its subordinate 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, in Pohakuloa Training Area, Kona, Hawaii near 1st Battalion’s home station. The command and control event exercises the headquarter element’s ability to coordinate its organic unit’s combat actions on an ever-changing battlefield. 

“We conduct command and control with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, in Okinawa and Korea frequently, but it is rare that we get to do it with 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, so this is a big deal.” said Col. Lance A. McDaniel, the commanding officer for 12th Marines. 

1st Battalion, 12th Marines, has fallen under multiple commands in the last decade or so, according to McDaniel, a Fulshear, Texas native. It most recently moved from 3rd Marines to 12th Marines.

“It’s irreplaceable for 12th Marines to be able to command 1st Battalion, 12th Marines because of geographical separation,” said Lt. Michael R. Stevens, the battery executive officer with Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines.

12th Marines usually conduct exercises with their battalion on Okinawa, 3rd Bn. This unit is comprised of various non-organic units attached to them through the unit deployment program. The program offers battery-size units an opportunity to travel to the Pacific to receive more diverse training with other organizations.

“3rd Battalion, 12th Marines is a battalion that is composed of UDP batteries that come from 10th, 11th and 12th Marine Regiments,” said McDaniel. “The idea of UDP is that we have a smaller required force overall, but are still able to service our requirements in Okinawa. It ensures that we have ready forces coming to us from other parts of the operating forces infusing us with new blood.” 

1st Battalion, 12th Marines supplies a steady flow of units participating in the program, according to Stevens, a New Town Square, Pennsylvania, native. Japan, the Philippines and Thailand are some of the places the units train in.

"There is training opportunities out there that we don’t have in Hawaii,” said Stevens. “It’s good to get Marines out of their comfort zone and to experience different environments that exist in the Pacific as part of the Marine Corps’ focus right now. We tend to learn more out of our comfort zone.”

Part of working out of their comfort zone is training with different branches such as the U.S. Army and Air Force.

“We will never operate as a Marine Corps by ourselves,” said McDaniel. “When we go on an operational deployment, wherever that might be, we’re always going to be with a joint force.”

During the exercise, Marines integrated air support from different branches with their artillery, giving them surface to surface and air to surface capabilities.

“Training with Marines is an easy flow,” said Senior Airman Jose Duran, a member of the Tactical Air Control Party with Joint Terminal Attack Control capabilities, with 25th Air Support Operations Squadron. “We don’t get a lot of opportunity to integrate artillery, so it’s a good training opportunity for that as well as seeing how Marines work.”