29 PALMS

New Range Opened at Combat Center

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Story by Cpl Rachel Young-Porter on 06/21/2019
Story by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Rachel K. Young-Porter

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, Twentynine Palms, Calif. A new range designed for live-fire military maneuvers opened at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center located in Twentynine Palms, Calif., June 17, 2019.

The facility, named Range 105A, offers a series of six lanes designed for a 12-person military element, called a squad, to practice live-fire shooting and grenade-throws.

According to United States Marine Corps Training Command, squad attacks are a complex maneuver that requires squad leaders to conduct decisive leadership, and responsive, accurate spontaneity when engaging the enemy.

Chief Warrant Officer James Curtis, infantry weapons officer, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, said that Range 105A helps prepare Marines and squad leaders for complex engagements by aligning training with these expectations.

"It's important to modernize training based on actions of the enemy as opposed to a safety officer telling you when to shoot," Curtis said.

"This is a huge step for Marine Corps training," he said. "It offers repetition at a squad level as well as individual lanes for collective and singular attacks. That isn't typically available at Marine Corps installations."

The lanes of Range 105A consist of six progressive lanes. Lanes one through five focus on individual infantry skills like combat marksmanship. At the sixth lane, the squad comes together to practice skills they learned individually to participate in a squad attack to test the entire squad in various scenarios that prompt the Marines to engage in active fire by incorporation of automated target lifters as well as marathon moving, or robot, targets.

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Peter J. Kloetzke, rifleman, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, said that he has waited for this type of training range for over a decade.

"This range has endless capabilities," Kloetzke said. "I could train a private first class or lance corporal everything up to a squad attack in one week. I never want to leave Twentynine Palms, the training that you get here is beyond anything offered on the East Coast."

This was the first time that Marines have used the range since it was remodeled. Range 105A closed last fall and was remodeled to include six lanes.

The remodeling came at a time when the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command is focusing on modernizing its facilities to better prepare training audiences for potential conflict against near-peer adversaries.

"This range provides infantry squad leaders with the ability to train against any threat," said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Anthony Kostendt, current operations officer, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. "This gives squad leaders a platform where they can develop their own training, utilizing all weapons organic to a Marine Corps rifle squad."

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