PUCKAPUNYAL, Australia --
Marines with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, travelled here to participate in the 2011 Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting May 9 to 19.
The four Marines joined with 12 others from around the Corps to form Marine Shooting Detachment Australia, one of the 13 international teams participating in AASAM.
The annual meeting was designed to test the participants’ combat marksmanship, build rapport between partner militaries, and provide a forum for the discussion of tactics and techniques relevant to combat marksmanship.
“We were brought here to compete in the (M249 squad automatic weapon) events,” said Cpl. Duane Kamp, mortarman, 3/3. “We’re watching the other events carefully though; there are a lot of techniques that we’ve never seen before, and even if it’s not something we are going to implement in our own training, it gets you thinking about what else is possible.”
The 3/3 Marines were selected for their experience as infantrymen deployed to combat zones, balancing out a team that already included several division and national match shooters.
“This was our first international match but we had a lot of experience coming into it from the four years of infantry training we all have,” said Lance Cpl. Pete Shea, rifleman, 3/3. “We’ve all deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, so we have that experience as well.”
Emphasizing combat marksmanship, AASAM kept the Marines comfortable despite never having participated in marksmanship competitions.
“The ranges were not much different from our own but targets and courses of fire were new,” said Cpl. Max King, mortarman, 3/3. “We felt comfortable shooting our weapon systems in these matches and now we know how to practice for next year.”
The competition provided the Marines an opportunity to learn from some of the best marksmen in the world in the areas of training and shooting.
“I was impressed by the speed at which some of these teams could move to position to engage the targets,” said Kamps. “There was a lot of expertise that was gathered here at the competition.”
Building relationships with the different nations, on and off the firing ranges, was a point of focus for the Marines.
“It was easy to relate to each other because there were so many similarities between the different militaries,” said Kamps. “Everyone was very friendly and eager to share knowledge.”
With several days of competition still left ahead of them, the Marines were already taking down notes on what the team would need to do to get ready for next year’s meeting, ensuring that the foundation they built here would be improved and carried forward by the Marines to follow.
“Now that we know the courses of fire we can make sure that knowledge gets passed on,” said Kamps. “We want to make sure the Marine Corps’ team comes back next year to be a competitive force.”