POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii --
U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, participated in the Infantry Platoon Battle Course at the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Island of Hawaii, Oct. 25, 2017.
The Marines were the first ones to try the newly constructed IPBC range built by the U.S. Army.
“The overall training went very well,” said 2nd Lt. Gavin Heitzig, a platoon commander with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, and a native of St. Louis, Mo. “The range consisted of two support by fire positions and two maneuver elements. We started with a breach from our engineers, allowing us to push up the hill, and start engaging targets.”
Heitzig said as soon as they began firing they ran into enemy opposition.
“Once we started to engage we were under fire by a machine gun bunker,” Heitzig said. “We had to fall back into defilade, and I called up our machine gunners to occupy their position. From there they were able to eliminate that machine gun bunker as well as a technical vehicle.”
Sgt. Alex Bowman, a squad leader with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, and a native of East Moline, Ill., said the range was unique from those previously encountered.
“There are a number of ways that you can attack the objectives here as opposed to others like Range 1 where there’s only one way to maneuver forward,” Bowman said. “For this range, the terrain will allow you to maneuver through defilades where the enemy can’t see you, and have support by fires up to cover your movement forward.”
Bowman said a utility task vehicle would be used during the exercise. The UTV looks similar to a dune buggy or off road vehicle.
“They’re using the UTV as a resupply,” Bowman said. “So whenever we would consolidate at the end of our first objective they would send up a resupply with ammunition, water, and anything else we would need.”
Lance Cpl. Clay Coffman, a machine gun section leader, and a native of Prineville, Ore., said using the UTV gives them the ability to move and operate quicker.
“It allows us to keep the fight going as fast as possible since ammunition equals weight,” Coffman said. “It’s easier to carry what we need, get the resupply from the UTV, and continue to engage the enemy so they don’t have time to reorganize their defenses.”
Coffman said every range he has been to favors the light infantry role which is not the case for IPBC.
“This range is simulating an attack on an enemy mechanized unit,” Coffman said. “We’re trying to use infantry to go over the steep terrain to outmaneuver and outflank the opposing forces using LAW’s, AT4’s, SMAW’s, and armored piercing rounds to eliminate the mechanized vehicles.”
Heitzig said he was proud the Marines were the first ones to try out the range.
“It was pretty exciting to have the Marine Corps able to execute an Army range,” Heitzig said. “It’s a very unique and dynamic range allowing for a lot of creativity that you can use to when you’re trying to set your men in position.”