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MCINCR - Marine Corps Base Quantico

"Crossroads of the Marine Corps"

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TBS Marines witness EFSS mortar’s impact

By John Hollis | | August 28, 2014


More than 40 Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., were at Marine Corps Base Quantico on Aug. 20, 2014 demonstrating the effectiveness of the Expeditionary Fire Support System as a viable tool to extend Marine offensive capabilities with added agility and effectiveness.


EFSS, which is a 120mm rifled mortar system that is easily towed by its Internally Transportable Vehicle, can be readily moved aboard MV-22 Osprey aircraft and the larger CH-53E helicopters. EFSS-equipped units would provide a key ground component of a Marine vertical assault by providing critical mortar support well beyond the ranges of current infantry battalion mortars. The system’s added flexibility not only increases the Marine Corps’ ship-to-shore capabilities, but fits in line with its Expeditionary Force 21 Vision that calls for the ability to move rapidly, operate immediately, adapt to their conditions and succeed in austere environments, according to a Marine Corps publication entitled Expeditionary Force 21.


The Basic School was the host of the first such demonstration at Quantico, and could eventually include EFSS training as part of its instruction for its young combat officers, said Lt. Col. Simon M. Doran, executive officer, The Basic School.


“It’s a unique capability,” Doran said of the system. “It’s certainly going to add to the EF-21 concept.”


Forty-two Marines from Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment went over the system with interested TBS Marines before the following day’s live-fire exercise. Using the ITV to make the mortar system mobile, the Marines needed just a few minutes to load the nearly 6,000-pound system aboard Osprey helicopters. Upon arriving at their designated point, the crew quickly unloaded and set up the weapon, firing for effect at targets roughly four kilometers away.


The EFSS’ 120mm rounds can reach an altitude of nearly 8,000 feet and consistently hit targets as far as nearly five miles away with an effective kill radius of nearly 250 feet, said Capt. Sam Johnson, commanding officer, Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment.


“When the infantry is in a pinch,” Johnson said, “they don’t care who is providing fire, as long as they can get it.”


The trip to Quantico was a welcome one for the Camp Lejeune Marines, who rarely get the opportunity to train with the expensive rounds. They relished the opportunity to launch 120 rounds during their stay and better hone their craft.


“Personally, I love it,” said Sgt. Michael Clark, Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. “I love the concept of it.”

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