Marine Corps light weight artillery is having a heavy impact on ISIS

Tasks and Purpose:
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At Fire Base Bell in Iraq, Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit fired roughly 2,000 rounds in support of Iraqi and Kurdish fighters engaging ISIS militants in Mosul in May 2016, and soldiers with the Army’s 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment continued the mission after the MEU rotated home.

In Syria, Marines with the 11th MEU recently dropped 4,500 rounds on ISIS militants in support the local Syrian and Kurdish fighters on the march to take Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital, and now another artillery battery from a different MEU has taken over that mission.

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Run by a crew of seven or eight — and five if need be — the 155 mm BAE Systems-designed cannon boasts some impressive specs. With a range of 15 miles, the M777’z deadly reach can be enhanced with rocket-assisted shells, allowing it to reach out and destroy a target up to 18.6 miles away, according to Popular Mechanics.

The M777 replaced the M198 howitzer when it entered service with the Marines and Army in 2005 but unlike it’s 15,700-pound predecessor, the M777 weights just 9,800 pounds, meaning troops can literally truck the cannon onto the battlefield or airlift this beast with CH-53 Super Stallions, CH-47 Chinooks, or MV-22 Ospreys. For a real sense of just how light this thing is, the gun’s World War II-era ancestor, the 240mm M1 howitzer, weighed in at 64,700 pounds.
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An even more advanced version of this lightweight artillery piece will have a range of 40 miles and comes with an auto-loader.   The relatively small crew needed to operate these weapons make it a force multiplier for the Marines and Army units using them.  We have come a long way from the 105 mm howitzers my company installed on Dong Ha Mountain in Vietnam.  It too was brought in by a chopper but its range and firepower were a fraction of this weapons'.  A firebase with this weapon can control a lot of terrain when teamed with sensors and drones to find targets.

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