USS RUSHMORE - Being confined on a ship for long periods of time can seemingly put a damper on effective training, however, Marines will always find ways to train, no matter what their environment they’re in.Marines assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit took advantage of their time at sea to conduct Maritime Interoperability Training aboard the USS Rushmore, Feb. 25. The integrated training between embarked servicemembers touched on a number of areas the Marines were unfamiliar with including at-sea casualty evacuations, small boat proficiency and live-fire gunnery training. With the use of a Rigged-Hulled Inflatable Boat, servicemembers gained a new familiarity with operating on small-boat vessels. They learned key skills including how to evacuate at-sea casualties when an air-lift is unavailable and firing crew-served weapons from a vessel. “The training is important because most training we do is on land,” said Maj. Stephen Mount, air officer, Command Element, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “Enhancing the Marines’ abilities to operate off of the USS Rushmore increases their capabilities outside their traditional roles. Things such as getting used to shooting at unstable targets from an unstable position on a ship offer unique training opportunities.” Scout snipers aboard had the challenge of engaging a floating target more than 500 meters from the ship. The team employed their largest caliber rifle, the M107 .50 Caliber Special Application Scoped Rifle to pull of the feat. “We haven’t had the opportunity to shoot from the deck of a ship before,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan Stocking, platoon sergeant, Scout Sniper Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 15th MEU. “We engaged a floating target at 580 meters and were able to hit it with a SASR. Shooting at a moving target on a moving platform proved to be difficult, but we adjusted after two shots and hit on-target. We definitely benefited from the unfamiliar training.” In addition to providing a unique experience and cooperation between Marines and sailors, the events also allowed servicemembers on both sides to conduct sustainment training of many skills they were already familiar with. The evolution allowed them to rehearse moving causalities from off ship locations to the ship’s medical facility. When air assets are not available to move patients, they are brought onto the ship via small-boats through the well-deck of the Rushmore. The servicemembers worked together to bring a stretcher up to the triage area as quickly as possible where the corpsmen practiced applying immediate actions, which greatly increases the chance of survival. “The training allowed the Marines to sustain some skills they already know,” said Mount. “When we don’t have land or a range to operate from, we improvise to practice skills such as live-fire training or casualty evacuations.” At the end of the day, the Marines finished with a new set of skills they could employ in an environment not organic to their basic training. The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
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