By Lance Cpl. Cory D. Polom, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.- For more than 10 years the Marine Corps has been conducting combat operations against enemies who do not rely on aircraft.
So why does 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion continue to sustain skill sets that would allow them to defend land elements from air attacks? “There will always be a time and place for this training to pay off,” said Lt. Col. Joel A. Burdette, commanding officer of the air defense battalion.
Marines of 2nd LAAD conducted a PL-87 Stinger Missile live fire at Onslow Beach aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 25.
“UAVs could become a possible threat to us at anytime. That is why my Marines continue to train with the Stinger Missile,” said Burdette.
2nd LAAD Marines fired more than 50 Stinger Missiles at targets during their week-long training exercise to better hone their skills. A UAT is a model airplane used for target practice for different weapon systems.
The UATs flew in a pacing like pattern more than 2,500 meters off the coast before being shot down by the gunners.
The Marines went over several different training scenarios during the day. A few scenarios had the gunners standing at a firing point firing the missile system and another had them hopping out of a Humvee before locking on and firing.
During this type of scenario, the air defense Marines have but moments to get out of a vehicle, locate the aircraft, lock-on and fire the weapon system.
“If we take too long to shoot down an enemy aircraft it could mean the death of us and possibly hundreds of Marines,” said Sgt. Roberto Cuesdes, a gunner with 2nd LAAD. “You never know when and where we might be called upon to do this job for the Marine Corps. We have to be well prepared.”