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    504th’s battalions conduct cumulative range week, improve weapons proficiency



    Story by Staff Sgt. Dominique Clarke 

    AFN Bavaria

    Soldiers must always be prepared physically and mentally for combat, so familiarity and proficiency with all assigned weapons systems may be the deciding factor in pushing back the enemy or providing cover fire as needed to get a comrade to safety.
    Soldiers with the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade and B Company, 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th MI Brigade, embarked on a week-long range to qualify soldiers on different weapons systems by conducting real-time live fire from a combat perspective and building overall camaraderie between the two units.
    Capt. Samuel Giltner, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment commander, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, said soldiers should be proficient in Table 1 Gunnery — which are generally individual requirements based on a soldier’s job specialty — and Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills.

    Soldiers from both battalions fired over 25,000 rounds of ammunition, qualifying soldiers on the M4/M16 rifles, M9 pistol, M2 .50 caliber machine gun, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and the MK 19 grenade launcher. Throughout the range week, both units demonstrated esprit-de-corps and camaraderie while dealing with the weather and unfamiliarity of working together at a firing range for the first time.
    “Everyone came together to get the job done,” said Giltner. “This served as a great camaraderie and team-building exercise.”
    Chief Warrant Officer 3 Douglas Park, with the 303rd MI Battalion’s operations section, said many of the firing events focused on ‘stress shooting,’ which is training used to simulate actual combat scenarios and enable soldiers to perform under a simulated combat environment.
    “The soldiers were able to learn about what a potential fire-fight looks like,” said Park. “They were able to utilize shooting techniques and perform immediate and remedial actions for weapon stoppage.”
    The idea of stress training is having soldiers engage targets while adding colored smoke and noise simulators, with multiple weapon systems firing downrange at the same time. The training not only assists soldiers with real-world experience, but helps develop communication practices and shooting techniques.
    Second Lt. Andrew Nkansah, executive officer for B Company, 163rd MI Battalion, said the range week allowed the company’s soldiers to qualify on several weapons systems and build proficiency across teams.

    “The week was dedicated to marksmanship, with each day focusing on a different weapon system,” said Nkansah. “Knocking out qualifications in a training environment with a different battalion allows (us) to get to know each other and build camaraderie.”
    Nkansah said the training was a chance to practice combat skills away from a garrison.
    “This opportunity allows us to learn about each other away from garrison and the day-to-day tasks and routines,” he said.
    Pfc. Stephen Deemer, a soldier with B Company, 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion, qualified on the M249 SAW and M9 pistol. He said he gained practical experience on firing and marksmanship while also qualifying on crew-served weapons.
    “I am a lot more self-confident with my weapon systems after this week,” said Deemer. “I was a little afraid to fire the M249 before, but after this week and firing it, my confidence is really high.”
    Making mistakes is a vital part of any learning curve and it was no exception for the soldiers. Experiencing weapon jams and firing all allocated ammunition are lessons for soldiers to gain knowledge and experience.
    “I experienced a malfunction during the range, but I was able to use immediate and remedial actions to return firing,” said Deemer. “Safety was the top priority.”
    For every range to be truly safe, safety of personnel and equipment is of the upmost importance. The two units suffered no injuries during the range and training. The success of the cumulative training assures the “Always Ready” brigade that it has more soldiers fully-trained and proficient in Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, ready to stand and answer the nation’s call when needed.



    Date Taken: 02.01.2017
    Date Posted: 05.29.2020 08:51
    Story ID: 370983
    Location: FORT HOOD, TX, US 

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