News: Recruits to test fire with scopes
Story by Cpl. J Nava
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- The recruits of Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, made history when they became the first recruits to be issued Rifle Combat Optics aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
The AN/PVQ-31 RCOs were issued alongside the M16-A4 service rifle to the recruits of Bravo Company, June 15 and will soon go to Charlie, Hotel and Echo companies as part of a study by the Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity.
MCOTEA oversees testing of new equipment for the Marine Corps to determine its operational effectiveness and suitability. MCRD San Diego will simultaneously conduct the same study.
“For the past 90 or so years, we’ve qualified with iron sights. You will be the first company in the history of Parris Island to qualify with RCOs,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kenneth Kurre, gunner and officer in charge of the Marksmanship Training Unit, while expressing the importance of this event to Bravo Company drill instructors.
The test will help determine whether or not introducing new recruits to RCOs during recruit training will make them better combat marksmen.
“The reason is to provide commonality,” Kurre said. “So that when the recruits who graduate recruit training arrive at (Marine Combat Training or the Infantry Training Battalion,) they draw the same weapon they had here and it’s not anything new.”
The recruits’ progress will be tracked by MCOTEA during their time at Parris Island through MCT/ITB, when they arrive at their first unit and up until their first annual rifle training.
“The AN/PVQ-31 is the primary aiming device used in the Marine Corps’ operating forces – it’s what we use in combat,” said Gunnery Sgt. Brian Corns, staff non-commissioned officer in charge at the MTU. “We’re switching to RCOs for the same reason that we switched from the M1 Garand all the way down to the M4 (carbine), because technology is advancing.”
To the “saltier” members of the Corps, the break in tradition may seem taboo, but both Kurre and Corns assure that studying the change is for the best.
“In the operating forces, fewer than 2 percent of RCOs are failing in combat and in training,” Kurre said. “That’s less than the percentage of iron-sight failures.”
Even though these recruits are strictly being taught with the RCO, that doesn’t mean they will be left completely in the dark when it comes to iron sights.
The recruits will be taught iron sights when they get to MCT/ITB, Corns said.
After Echo Company, the last company chosen to participate in the test, MCOTEA will compile and evaluate the information gathered, to decide whether the Marine Corps should stick to training its new recruits strictly with RCOs.