Artillery: April 27, 2003


Although the U.S. Marine Corps has fought many times on sandy beaches, their training for mortar crews has lost sight of this. In Iraq, marines noticed that the first few rounds of mortar fire were erratic. The mortar crews quickly figured out what was going on. When they set up their mortars in sandy areas, the first few rounds fired would drive the base plate (a flat metal plate the mortar tube is attached to) deeper into the soft sand. This would change the position of the mortar enough to throw off the accuracy. The solution was either to fire something like illumination (flares) rounds first (which did not need the same kind of accuracy as high explosive shells), or simply to get out the shovels and make sure the sand was tamped down well before laying down the base plate. 


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