It'll be a different artillery mission next time in Iraq. Instead of a "move-and-shoot" approach to indirect firepower in support of an advancing fighting force, the big guns will be targeting insurgents in fixed firing positions.
With the reality of guerrilla warfare in Iraq squarely in mind, Marines from Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, broke in a new firing base last July at Camp Pendleton, California--a range tailored to what they'll face in Iraq--in preparation for an OIF deployment last summer.
The unit overlooked no detail during the eight-month-long construction process, said Lt. Col Alan L. Orr, the commanding officer of 1 Bn., 11th Marines. He noted that the base is perched uprange from a big sandbox that serves as a target. "(The fire base lies) parallel to the long axis of the impact zone," said Orr.
The fire base consists of eight depressions into which an artillery piece like an M-198 howitzer can be placed. The depressions are deliberately placed beyond the howitzer's range by just a few meters. Artillerymen--it takes at least six--must physically pick up the howitzer by its legs and move it slightly to try to extend its range. In powerlifiting jargon, it amounts to a "dead lift"
The base is unglorified...