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Commando’s gunners keep their eyes on the target in California

25 May 2016
The men who ensure Naval guns bring a storm of steel and fire raining down on enemy positions honed their accuracy on one of the largest ranges in the USA.

It’s thanks to 148 Battery Royal Artillery that shells from the 4.5in main guns of the Royal Navy came down with pinpoint precision on targets in Iraq and Libya as they guided sailors in the operations rooms of British warships.

The Poole-based unit, which is part of the Army but attached to the Royal Marines and made up of soldiers, sailors and commandos, is also expected to call in fire support from artillery, mortars as well as fast jets and helicopter gunships.

Among the various missions which 148 Battery’s personnel may be called on to fulfil are sneaking ashore ahead of the bulk of the Royal Marines so that they can direct air strikes and naval gunfire support in time for the main landing.

Camp Pendleton offers the perfect setting for the men of 148 Battery to practise their skills, calling in joint fires from fast jets and helicopters, artillery, mortars and naval gun fire support.

Captain Luke Wadman Royal Artillery

The battery’s US Marine Corps’ counterpart invited the Britons to California to spend a month at Camp Pendleton – the largest USMC base on the West Coast, roughly half way between Los Angeles and San Diego – making use of indoor and outdoor ranges on Exercise Burmese Chase.

Not only do the specialist spotters and attack controllers of 1st Air-Naval Ground Liaison Company (1st ANGLICO) have extensive ranges to call on – Pendleton covers an area of more than 125,000 acres, making it larger than the Isle of Wight – but they also have impressive 3D simulators (what the Americans call ‘dry training’).

“Camp Pendleton offers the perfect setting for the men of 148 Battery to practise their skills, calling in joint fires from fast jets and helicopters, artillery, mortars and naval gun fire support,” explained Captain Luke Wadman RA.

“1st ANGLICO do a really similar job to us so we’ve been sharing tactics, techniques and procedures.”

Royal Marine Corporal Ian Maxwell, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) assigned to the battery, specialises in calling in air to ground support.

“The aim of the exercise is to conduct a joint fires integration training package with our brothers from the 1st ANGLICO. We have learnt a lot from each other and continue to develop our skill set,” said the 34-year-old from Fort Augustus, Invernessshire.

He and his comrades will have the chance to repay the US Marines’ hospitality later this year when they invite 1st ANGLICO to the UK for some combined training on our ranges. 

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