After successfully completing RIP (Ranger Indoctrination Program later renamed RASP) I was assigned to 2nd Ranger Battalion (Cco-MadSlashers). When I arrived at Ft. Lewis it was basically empty. I was sent on a reach-back bird (planes that carry people into, and out of combat for various reasons) to meet my already deployed platoon. After a few stops I arrived in Baghdad, Iraq and I was excited. I met my platoon sergeant and he assigned me to weapons squad (Maggots: because we carried everything).
I stayed in Maggots for the majority of my time while serving in Ranger Battalion. Maggots basically delt with everything belt-fed, or shoulder fired. We maintained and used a variety of awesome weapons: M2, M240B (now the L), MK19 (40mm automatic grenade launcher), Carl Gustav (84mm recoilless rifle), and the MK48 (at the time a brand new compact 7.62mm machine gun). After a couple of years, ranger school, and a few combat deployments I was eventually assigned as a Gun Team Leader, and the MK48 was my primary weapon.
My MK48 had a built-in bipod, forward grip, Picatinny rails, IR laser, and M145 optic. I carried the Army issued M9 (9mm Beretta pistol) as a back-up, or to be used if I needed to assist in clearing a structure. We created a 200 round drum that attached to the MK48 as our primary ammo source. I had two specially modified pouches on my armor that each held an additional 200 rounds. Our assault packs fastened directly to our armor and I was able to put an additional 100-300 in there if needed. I prefer to keep the pack available for thermals, or other mission essential gear. As a Gun Team Leader, I also had privates assigned to me that could cover my position while I worked, and they would each be assigned an ammo bag which held 300 rounds.
Aside from ammo, my kit included: a small team radio, a larger (MBITR), first-aid kit, extra tourniquet, extra magazines for my M9, VF-17 panel (to mark my position and identify as friendly if needed), pen-gun flares, glow sticks, riggers belt, rope gloves (if needed), eye protection, helmet with night vision (these changed throughout my time in), batteries, soft armor, plate armor, and water. As you can see the weight adds up quick if you are a machine gunner.
It sucked humping the rounds and the MK48 in training, it sucked humping it in combat. However, when the SHTF everyone wanted to be a machine gunner. Take a look at the video below to see a MK48 gunner in combat. Before you critique his apparent non-sensical firing you need to understand that one of the most important things a machine gunner does is suppressive fire. When a machine gunner suppresses a target that allows another element to move on the enemy without receiving fire. The machine gun is an area weapon, meaning your bursts aren’t intended for single point targets. You aren’t going to snipe an enemy with a machine gun. You can, however, hammer him and his position into dust.
(Video courtesy of FUNKER530 – Veteran Community & Combat Footage YouTube channel)
If you have any questions about the weapons or loadouts I used while assigned to 2nd Ranger Battalion, then please leave a comment below.