12 amphibious assault vehicles stood staged before the firing line, several
crews sat atop, staring down range through binoculars to observe the exhibition
of their fellow crewmen. It was here, in this moment, that their training,
integration and unity was now being put to the test with oversight from Marine
Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity.
Marines with AAV Platoon, Company B,
Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, began their Marine Corps
Operational Test and Evaluation Activity assessment at Range 500, Marine Corps
Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, March 3, 2015.
Day one consisted of the live-fire
portion of the assessment for the platoon, and saw randomized crews putting
rounds down range in an evolution that required all to work together as reloads
were conducted and targets were destroyed.
we did was sit down and dug through the AAV training and readiness manual to
find physically demanding tasks that individuals and crews would perform
together in an operational environment,” said Capt. Joel Detrick, AAV
functional test manager, MCOTEA. “We especially looked at the rear crewman and
their ability to conduct combat tasks, such as getting ammo cans up and helping
load rounds into the turret.”
AAVs rolled out past the firing line with an evaluated
crew of a driver, turret gunner and assistant gunner aboard, making multiple
stops as targets were spotted.
“After the first run through, we got a better
understanding how [the range] worked and it got smoother as it went on,” said
Cpl. Darin A. Bean, crew chief, AAV Platoon, Co. B, GCEITF. “Everyone helped
each other out.”
Crews were randomized for the
purpose of gathering data from as many variables as possible. With different
crews performing the same tasks, there would be more data going toward the
assessment as a whole.
crew consisted of Lance Cpl. Nicholas Cascone, assistant gunner, and Cpl. Zachary
driver. Despite this being his first pairing with the Marines, he felt it made
no difference in their ability to get the job done.
“None of us had been together previously, yet it really
showed how we could come together,” Bean said.
As the crews assaulted targets
reflecting light armored trucks and troops at distances between 500 and 1500
meters, data was steadily collected, partly from heart rate monitors worn by
“We are tracking heart rate, accuracy on the targets, and
the time it takes the (assistant gunner) to assist and complete the internal
and external reloads,” Detrick said. “Data collectors in the AAVs kept track of
time and recorded from inside.”
After the completion of their
live-fire portion and a day of vehicle maintenance, the platoon returned to
action with several crew-based stationary tasks.
The first event was breaking track,
which Marines worked in teams of two to accomplish. Immediately afterwards came
the task of having to manually raise the approximately 700-pound ramp door of
the AAV via a ramp-jack tool.
Marines were required to retrieve weapon systems and ammunition boxes filled
with sand and secure their places in the AAV. Once this was complete, they
moved on to their last evolution: casualty evacuation.
tasks that are very physical in nature,” Detrick said.
The Marines were re-introduced to
“Carl”, an approximately 200-pound dummy that required internal and external
evacuation from every crew. Marines were required to pull Carl out from the
turret gunner position, working in teams of up to three if necessary. Carl came
equipped with an electronic head sensor that assessed any damage, giving the
Marines a sigh of relief when their Carl was still in condition green for
“It was easier than I thought it would be pulling Carl
out,” said Pvt. Jordyn K. Ridgeway, driver, AAV Plt., Co. B, GCEITF. “Once my
partner, the rear crewman, lifted him up to his capability, I came in to assist
after calling the nine-line procedure.”
platoon is slated to continue the assessment throughout the duration of their
stay in MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms.
“This is a good opportunity for us to gather data for
these tasks since some of those listed in the manual do not have a time limit
like some other (military occupational specialties) do,” Detrick said. “We can
take this data and refine what the requirements are to be an AAV crewman, and
make the MOS better.”
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.