GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - A select few Soldiers of Joint Task Force Guantanamo's 525th Military Police Battalion endured tropical heat and humidity to qualify on their assigned weapons. Constant sweating, especially in the eyes, and dealing with weapon malfunctions and the humidity itself were just a few things they faced at the Windward Range July 21-23, 2008.
A total of 60 Soldiers from the 189th MP Company, the 193rd MP Company and the Headquarters, Headquarters Company traveled to the range to qualify with a M9 Pistol, an M16A2 Rifle and an M500 12-gauge shotgun. The intent of this qualification is to ensure that all Soldiers can successfully qualify with their assigned weapons and maintain 100 percent proficiency on of all weapons and equipment.
The 525th MP Battalion qualifies Soldiers at the range at least once a month due to new Soldiers arriving here and others needing to complete their semi-annual weapons qualification.
"We qualify every six months," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Cardozo, non-commissioned officer in charge of the 525's Operations Office. "We want our Soldiers to be proficient with their assigned weapons."
Sgt. Jonathan Goble of the HHC has qualified at the range about five times since coming here in February and has no complaints about the ongoing mission to qualify with his assigned weapons.
"I like firing and it feels nice to get out of the office from time to time," said Goble. "And today has been a pretty good day with nice conditions and how everything is progressing pretty quickly."
Prior to firing weapons at the range, Soldiers conducted pre-marksmanship instruction as well as familiarized themselves on all weapons.
With each type of weapon, the M9 Pistol, the M16A2 Rifle and the M500 12-gauge shotgun, different regulations and standards are required to qualify. With a M16A2, Soldiers are required to apply the correct basic rifle marksmanship techniques and achieve a minimum 26 of 40 hits using the 25 m alternate qualification course. To qualify with the M9 Pistol, Soldiers needed to register a minimum 24 of 40 hits at the alternate pistol qualification course while still applying correct engagement techniques. When Soldiers fired the M500 shotgun, they had to score a minimum of two pellets per round in the target as well as apply correct engagement techniques in the standing, kneeling and crouched positions, as well as strong side position around a barricade and standing position over a barricade.
If Soldiers were unable to qualify in the first attempt, they went to the remedial training station for additional PMI before going back to the range to try again.
"Soldiers are doing well thus far," said Sgt. 1st Class James Bass, NCOIC of the range, 189th MP Company "Everyone will be qualified by the end of this mission."
After everyone has completed the task of qualifying with their assigned weapons, the range will be picked-up and closed while all equipment and ammunition is removed from the range and returned to the arms-room. However, the job won't be completed for the Soldiers until the equipment and weapons have been thoroughly cleaned, final maintenance is conducted and everything has been turned in and accounted for.