By Cpl. Tyler Main , Marine Forces Africa
CAP DRAA, Morocco — Marine mortar men from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, in support of African Lion 2012, executed a quick-strike, indirect-fire mission on a simulated enemy fuel convoy at Cap Draa, Morocco, April 9.
Marines of 81 mm mortar platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Battalion Landing Team, 24th MEU raided and secured a beach on Cap Draa after traveling from the USS Iwo Jima by Landing Craft Air Cushion – a large amphibious hover craft.
After securing the beach, Marines trudged up a rocky, sand-covered mountain, carrying their 81 mm mortar systems, ammunition and their personal weapons while clad in body armor and kevlar helmets. Some Marines were carrying nearly 100 pounds of equipment. They had to move all of this equipment to the attack position a few miles inland.
They didn’t have time to think about the weight on their shoulders, though, because they were being timed and observed by their unit leaders. As a result, it was a race to set up and aim their mortar system upon reaching the firing point.
“This exercise was executed, partially, to see how fast we could complete this raid,” said Lance Cpl. Bula Aizar, machine gunner ammunition technician for 81 mm Mortar Platoon. “That included traveling from ship, setting up security, patrolling to position, setting up and pointing the guns, firing all rounds and returning to the extraction point.”
Aizar said setting up was rough, due to the high winds coming from the sea.
“We had a few problems that slowed us down, but we fired all rounds and every one of them was on target,” he said. “Overall, I think we were pretty successful, despite those difficulties.”
After eliminating their target, the Marines hiked back toward the sea to their helicopter extraction point, boarded the aircraft, and were gone as fast as they came. The entire operation was completed in less than two hours.
“Everything we did here today, are things we’re supposed to be able to do,” said 2nd Lt. Benjamin Beasley, 81 mm Mortar Platoon commander.
“The only difference today, was we were the main attack element, rather than being a supporting unit. Doing things like this keeps us polished on all of our expeditionary skills and ready to operate.”