Two Marines Injured After Anti-Tank Weapon Mishap at Infantry Officer Course

FILE PHOTO - A fire team leader with fires a M72AS 21mm Trainer System during a Tactical Small Unit Leaders Course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 16, 2017 (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Aaron Henson)
FILE PHOTO - A fire team leader with fires a M72AS 21mm Trainer System during a Tactical Small Unit Leaders Course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 16, 2017 (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Aaron Henson)

A Marine student and an instructor both sustained injuries last week during a live-fire training accident at the Corps' Infantry Officer Course in Quantico, Virginia, the service confirmed.

The incident took place Jan. 9 around 11 a.m. during the firing of an M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon, officials with Marine Corps Training Command said in a statement. The mishap was first reported by Marine Corps Times.

Both the student officer and the instructor-staff member were transported to an unidentified local hospital to treat minor injuries, Training Command officials said.

"Firing the LAW is a routine scheduled event required as part of the Training Command school's program of instruction," they said in the statement. "The safety of our Marines is a top priority."

While an investigation has been opened into the incident, officials said there is no current indication of negligence or misconduct by Marines during the training.

The M72 rocket-launcher has been used by the Army and Marine Corps since the Vietnam War. A man-portable system, it fires a 66 mm round with an effective range of roughly 200 meters. The system is subject to backblast, a pressure-caused phenomenon that creates a danger zone of 15 meters or more behind the weapon.

An upgraded version of the system reportedly under consideration by the Marine Corps would eliminate backblast and improve the system's stability and lethality.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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