According to base officials, one answer is that when on-the-job training includes learning how to fire precision artillery strikes, things are going to get ear-piercingly loud.
“This round right here normally weighs about 90 pounds average,” said Sgt. Davidson, a section chief with Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment (1/11), as he explained what happens when a round from a 155 Howitzer is fired. Howitzers can best be described as a modern-day cannon that provides long range heavy firepower for infantry units in combat.
It takes 8 to 12 people to fire just one round from the weapon.
Accuracy is a matter of life and death. That’s why Marines say realistic training exercises are critical.
“For example in Afghanistan, we were there for seven months, every day for 24 hours Marines were manning the Howitzers because they could receive a fire mission,” said Battalion Commander, LtCol Adolfo Garcia.
"Many times those fire missions were within 600 meters of friendly troops," he said.
He acknowledges the explosions are disruptive and can be heard and sometimes felt, in neighborhoods like San Marcos and beyond. On overcast days the impact can be heard up to 50 miles away.
Marines participating in the exercises say the noise is a necessary evil to stay proficient.
“We wouldn’t be able to do our jobs unless we get the actual live fire training,” said Staff Sgt Leroy Clemons standing in a makeshift command center set up to order strikes on fake targets.
Camp Pendleton posts noise advisories to let the public know when and where particularly loud training exercises will happen.