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Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force

Integrated Task Force Marine innovates Amphibious Assault Vehicle

By | | March 11, 2015


Whether in training or in combat, a little bit of time can mean a lot to one Marine. History has shown battles to be anything but a convenient endeavor, but one Integrated Task Force Marine’s simple innovation may have an impact on the amphibious assault vehicle community.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Cascone, AAV crewman, AAV Platoon, Company B, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, and a native of Tinlley Park, Illinois, decided that there had to be a more efficient  way to function as the assistant gunner of an AAV crew.

“The assistant gunner of an AAV crew has multiple responsibilities, often at the same time,” Cascone said. “To include dealing with ammunition and dunnage from the Mk-19 40mm grenade launcher and .50 caliber machine gun, and their maintenance.”

In particular, Cascone noted the spent rounds box intended to hold dunnage from internal .50 caliber machine gun rounds could use some improvement.

“The box itself is a very strange shape and conforms to the inside of the turret,” Cascone said. “It has clips all over it and often gets caught from top to bottom and left to right. A lot of times, especially when it is full and weighing approximately 30 pounds, it requires a lot of maneuver to remove.”

He decided to brainstorm on a slight modification that would allow the box to make its intended task much easier, allowing AAV crews to quickly lock and load and return to the fight.

“Ever since the first time I got in the vehicle and shot at the schoolhouse as an assistant gunner, everything made sense except for that box,” Cascone said. “I am not the only one who felt this way. Many (assistant gunners) would agree it is a poorly designed piece of the turret. After our last range at SR-10, right before coming out to (Twentynine Palms), I thought of the idea more and started at square one which was getting ahold of one of the original boxes.”

A trip down to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Organization allowed Cascone to obtain a used, discarded box. He then sought a welder in the Jacksonville, North Carolina area that agreed to bring his concept to life.

“The metal worker primarily dealt with art railings and very intricate metal works,” Cascone said. “He mentioned it would be completely different from what he normally does, but he was all about it and I was able to give him the box and concept. The next day, he was done.”

Cascone was eager to show his prototype to his fellow crewmen and chain of command so they could see how it functioned. He himself was impressed with it being a perfect fit.

Cascone’s modified box features a handle that allows for the assistant gunner to simply pull it out in the fashion of a desk drawer. He believes this alternative far exceeds the hassle he expressed trying to unclip the box and remove it from the top.

 “It’s made out of the same shell as the old one, but one end is cut off as well as the bottom to allow small rounds to fall through without jamming the box,” Cascone said.  “I also added a latch on the outside to hold it in for when we are on the move.”

Being that Cascone had his prototype created after the range exercises aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, he was only recently able to put it to the test here at Range 500, and share it with his fellow crewmen.

“It worked a lot better than even I expected,” Cascone said. “I only found one or two small improvements to make on it, but other than that it’s good.”

The other Marines in the platoon took notice as well.

“This spent rounds box is amazing,” said Sgt. Jaime Granados, assistant section leader, AAV Plt., Co. B, GCEITF. “Initially, the hassle that the normal spent rounds box has is the latches on the top, bottom and sides. If the gunner has his foot there, and you are trying to move the box while he or she is shooting, it could get them off target. With this, you can remove it without the gunner even noticing, and quickly put it back in once they start firing again.”

Granados also noticed a significant time difference between the two boxes.

“With the normal box, it was about 30-45 seconds to change out,” Granados said. “But with this new one, it’s an easy 15 seconds to pull out, dump the dunnage in another ammo can, and slide it back in where it belongs.”

Cascone hopes to make his slight modifications and share this simple innovation with more Marines in the AAV community.

“I’m proud that (the other crews) are utilizing it and finding it to be very helpful,” Cascone said. From October 2014 to July 2015, the GCEITF will conduct individual and collective level skills training in designated ground combat arms occupational specialties in order to facilitate the standards-based assessment of the physical performance of Marines in a simulated operating environment performing specific ground combat arms tasks.