MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII – KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii — Marines from Bravo Company, “Black Sheep,” 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, participated in exercise Spartan Fury 16.4 at Marine corps Base Hawaii, Sept. 6, 2016.

Spartan Fury is a pre-deployment exercise in which service members conduct live-fire artillery training and unit leaders are able to further assess and improve the lethality of the battalion.

“This training allows us to conduct battalion-level artillery live-fire training in which the battalion can better practice controlling the battery and coordinating fire missions,” said 1st Lt. Mark Siegmund, the executive officer for Bravo Co., 1st Bn., 12th Marines. “New Marines were also being taught by their peers to work more effectively as a team in order to complete fire missions as quickly and accurately as possible.”

Siegmund, a China Springs, Texas, native, said Spartan Fury included live-fire missions and reconnaissance, as well as the selection and occupation of a location, which ensures the rapid and orderly movement to and occupation of a firing position. He said this training is crucial for his Marines to learn and retain the information.

“We improved our emplacement and mission processing times and exceeded our time and readiness standards, so, overall, this exercise showed only positive results,” he said. “By the end of Spartan Fury, I wanted us to improve our core proficiencies, providing fast and accurate fires, and I definitely feel we have accomplished that. There is always room for improvement, but there is no doubt ‘Black Sheep’ is ready to deploy or go to combat.”

Sgt. Krysewzyski Bedan, the platoon sergeant for Bravo Co., 1st Bn., 12th Marines, said he saw only positive improvements during the exercise, from the Marines’ artillery fire to their small unit leadership.

“During the training, I saw these guys improve by a large margin, especially the new Marines,” said Bedan, a Honolulu, native. “They have learned a lot from those around them and were assisted with any issues they faced.”

Bedan said he was happy about the small unit leadership, from the section chiefs to the corporals, nobody was left behind or didn’t comprehend their role on the firing line and, walking around, he saw the Marines taking care of each other. He also said that while Spartan Fury had many positive training points, the exercise lacked the realism of actual combat scenarios.

“From the new guys’ perspectives, this is a great training area for them,” he said. “This is where each crew member is able to rotate with each other and learning different positions on the gun emplacement. In a real life situation, we would be shooting more than one kind of artillery round and wouldn’t have the limitations of the base range, however, this is going to make us better in the long run.”

Lance Cpl. David Plazas, an artilleryman with Bravo Co., 1st Bn., 12th Marines, was on gun three during Spartan Fury assisting his junior Marines and motivating his artillery crew. He said it’s important for those newer to the battalion to have leadership who pushes them forward.

“I feel like a lot of Marines in artillery start off slowly, but with good training and support from their peers, I feel like a new Marine can be ready in one field operation,” said Plazas, a Bogota, Columbia, native. “Overall, I think everyone did very well, especially the new Marines. I want our Marines to be leading the next class, without any help – that’s my goal.”

Plazas said being an artilleryman requires a lot from a Marine: You don’t need to just be physically capable, you also need to be able to react accordingly to the task at hand. He also said this training is important because it prepares the Marines ready for future operations.

“Artillery is all about muscle memory,” Plazas said. “The more you train for it, the easier it will be to react instinctively and, if we were requested to deploy, there wouldn’t be anything more motivating than putting our knowledge to use. This is what we train for. We signed up to fight. There is no place here for the timid – every Marine in artillery must be strong, decisive and loud.”