News: Red Falcons hit their mark training with new equipment
Story by Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The crack of .50 caliber rounds sound over the range as machine gunners attempt to cut down targets 800 meters away. Experienced marksmen stand behind the turret, binoculars to their faces, to ensure the gunners hit their mark.
Paratroopers with 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team conducted a machine gun leaders course this week to train gunners to fire from the turret of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicles. This is the first time the soldiers have trained with these vehicles.
It is important that they are comfortable using the M-ATV and know them inside and out, because Humvees are no longer used on convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Lt. Josh Beneviat, D Co., 1/325 platoon leader.
“We’re trying to make things as real as possible,” Beneviat said.
The event began with gunners zeroing and qualifying with their weapons; M249 squad automatic weapons, M240B machine guns, and .50 caliber machine guns. After their sights were aligned, they moved to the turrets.
The M-ATVs, borrowed from the civilian company Pre-Deployment Training Equipment, are more armored than a Humvee and can take the blast from an improvised explosive device, said Beneviat. The training didn’t stop at just firing from the truck, but it also covered proper loading procedures, downed gunner drills and casualty evacuation.
Getting accustomed to these vehicles and knowing the proper way to load them is important before deploying, said Cpt. Michael Taylor, 1/325 platoon leader, but some units don’t know they can borrow this equipment from PDTE, or they don’t look into it. Knowing their equipment and how to properly use it will help keep Troopers safe and mission effective while down-range. “Training on these trucks is what my men need to do,” Taylor said.