News: Two ‘Black Lions’ train up for AFRICOM mission
Story by Staff Sgt. John Johnson
FORT RILEY, Kan. — Two 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment Soldiers returned Feb. 14 from foreign weapons training at Quantico, Va., armed with vital training for their Soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Joel Olson and Staff Sgt. Michael Cruz attended the U.S. Marine Corp’s Foreign Weapons Training course to enhance their battalion’s capabilities as it prepares to take over an important mission in United States Africa Command.
The 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt. and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, are set to take over AFRICOM’s Regionally Aligned Forces mission this June from 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team.
“This training is a contingency for the support of the upcoming AFRICOM mission,” Olson, a platoon sergeant in the battalion, said of the Quantico-based weapons training. “Part of our contingency mission for our brigade is not only to train our Soldiers on the capabilities of those weapon systems, but also to train host nation forces on how to use their weapon systems as part of the AFRICOM contingency.”
The FWT course included disassembly and assembly, maintenance procedures immediate and remedial actions and more, Olson said.
“The introductory part of the course was basic weapon ballistics, characteristics, how we classify different weapons, whether it is a rifle or pistol,” Olson said. “(Then) we actually got down to the bare bones of what a weapon system is.”
The course did more than teach about foreign weapon systems. It also showed students how to instruct others on how to use them in the style of a step-by-step Army Basic Instructor Course.
“This is good because you can send one or two guys to the course, and they can return to the unit to increase the whole unit’s capabilities just from the instructor portion of it,” Olson said.
Any Army job could benefit from the knowledge and skills taught at the FWT course, Olson said. It’s not military occupational specialty-specific so any Soldier will gain valuable relevant knowledge on what Olson and Cruz learned, he added.
Noncommissioned officers in the Army use training aids to help their Soldiers, but Olson said the lessons could be improved by the use of actual foreign weapons systems.
“We haven’t been able to get any of the foreign weapon systems as of yet at Fort Riley because resourcing that kind of thing is a little difficult, not to mention the necessary ammunition and support along with maintenance,” Olson said. “It is kind of difficult to train our Soldiers on the weapon systems without them.”
Olson is currently preparing his platoon for the upcoming deployment to support the RAF mission.