Soldiers and Marines conduct mortar training

U.S. Army Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd  Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Mortar Platoon clean a 120mm mortar tube between  rounds during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S.  Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Army Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Mortar Platoon clean a 120mm mortar tube between rounds during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
U.S. Army Cpl. Tyler Lacruze, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa 1st Combined Arms Battalion,  63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Mortar Platoon adjusts a mortar tube during a  joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to  work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Army Cpl. Tyler Lacruze, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Mortar Platoon adjusts a mortar tube during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
U.S. Army Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd  Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Mortar Platoon fire a 120mm mortar while their teammates prepare the next round during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The  training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Army Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Mortar Platoon fire a 120mm mortar while their teammates prepare the next round during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
U.S. Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire a 120mm mortar during a  joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S.  Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire a 120mm mortar during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
U.S. Army Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd  Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit  calculate firing trajectories for 120mm mortars during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier,  Djibouti. These Soldiers and Marines redeive target coordinates from forward observers, make calculations, and pass the  information to firing teams who send rounds down range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Army Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit calculate firing trajectories for 120mm mortars during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. These Soldiers and Marines redeive target coordinates from forward observers, make calculations, and pass the information to firing teams who send rounds down range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
U.S. Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare 120mm mortar rounds  during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training  allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare 120mm mortar rounds during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ralphie Reyes, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Battalion Landing Team,  receives targeting instructions for his team’s next 120mm mortar round during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range  near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from  one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ralphie Reyes, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Battalion Landing Team, receives targeting instructions for his team’s next 120mm mortar round during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
U.S. Army Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd  Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit  watch 120mm mortar rounds hit the target area from an observation point during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range  near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Army Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit watch 120mm mortar rounds hit the target area from an observation point during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Michael Harp,13th Marine Expeditionary Unit scout sniper, observes  120mm mortars hit from an observation point during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier,  Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren) CJTF-HOA Photo U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Michael Harp,13th Marine Expeditionary Unit scout sniper, observes 120mm mortars hit from an observation point during a joint training exercise Oct. 29, 2013, at a range near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The training allowed U.S. Soldiers and Marines to work side by side, comparing and learning from one another’s techniques to increase the success of future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)

From a point high on a mountain side, a forward observer looks up from his laser range finder and radios target coordinates to unseen support troops on the ground. Several kilometers away, a joint team of U.S. Soldiers and Marines receives the coordinates, calculates firing trajectory, and gives the order for fire teams to send a volley of 120mm mortar rounds skyward. The entire process takes a matter of minutes, making proper communication and team cohesiveness paramount.

Soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted mortar training here recently to sharpen their skills and share tactics across services.

“Training like this is important to us because it helps hone our skills within our specialty,” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Jacob Little, 13th MEU Battalion Landing Team. “It makes sure we are ready as the [U.S. Central Command] reinforcement and as the African reinforcement with the Army, to be able to perform any mission at a moment’s notice.”

Working as a cohesive unit, the Soldiers and Marines sent round after round of mortars to targets several kilometers away. Getting to work side-by-side with the Marines in the fire direction center and learn their terminology and tactics is beneficial to future operations, said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Stephen White, 1-63 CAB Headquarters and Headquarters Company mortar platoon leader.

“I get to see how their FDC works hand-in-hand with ours and how quickly we can get fire on target when we are working together,” said White, what had not previously worked alongside the Marines.

The fire team on the ground is only half of the equation; observers in the target area are vital to placing artillery on target.

“We have fire support teams and sniper teams up here calling for fire from mortars of 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm.” said U.S. Marine Capt. William Prom, 13th MEU Battalion Landing Team fire support coordinator.

Prom, who was overseeing operations at the observation point overlooking the target area, stressed how joint training like this improves cooperation between the observers and the fire teams on the ground.

“Working together improves the ability of both the observers and the fire support agencies,” Prom concluded.

Joint training provides U.S. forces the opportunity continue improving beyond the scope of their own service. Working alongside the 13th MEU gives CJTF-HOA one more way to ensure peace and stability in East Africa.

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U.S. Army U.S. Marine Corps Training 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

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