News: Unit armorer course prepares service members to maintain an arms room
Story by Sgt. Richard Andrade
FORT BLISS, Texas – Absolute silence. Soldiers stand frozen behind their desks with an M2 machine gun resting on the table. The second the unit armorer course instructor, holding a stopwatch in his hand, says begin, the silence is broken by metal-on-metal noises and thumping of machine gun parts hitting the table as the weapon is being taken apart. When the time is up, most of the soldiers smile, but a few are not pleased with the fact they could not reassemble the weapon in time.
Service members chosen to serve as unit armorers or alternate armorers attend a unit armorer course in order to learn how to manage an arms room. During the two-week course they are taught how to perform unit-level maintenance and repair weapons they will be held accountable for.
The class teaches service members of various ranks on the proper cleaning, repairing, troubleshooting, disassembly and reassembly of various weapons. The lesson plans include physical security, military publications, the Army Maintenance Management System, and arms room inspection procedures.
One of the weapons instructors at the troop school on Biggs Army Airfield, Victor Prieto, said he teaches soldiers how to properly run a unit arms room. He said the biggest challenge of teaching soldiers is the fact that some of them haven’t been trained at all with weapons while others know a lot due to their primary occupational specialty in combat arms. Prieto said the most challenging aspect of the class is finding the middle ground so that both sides can learn.
“We teach Army, Air Force, Marines, which all have different rules and backgrounds,” said Prieto, a native El Paso, Texas.
Some of the soldiers taking the class have been in the armorer position already and are familiar with many weapons systems.
Due to his previous deployments, Sgt. Joseph Henson, a motor transport operator assigned to 47th Transportation Company, 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, based out of Fort Bliss, Texas, is very familiar with the weapons the students are being taught in the class.
The native of Cowlington, Okla., said he enjoys being an armorer and likes sharing the knowledge he has with other students taking the course.
Henson said he likes walking around during the hands-on portion of the class and mentoring those having issues with the disassembly of a weapon.
“I like to show people multiple ways to do things, so they can figure out what way works best for them,” said Henson. “I like to see everybody succeed, I don’t want to see anybody fail.”
Prieto said best part of being an instructor is when soldiers go back to their units and do a good job, for example receiving an award after passing an arms room inspection.
“Just knowing that you were the one that taught them, just being part of that is what I enjoy the most,” said Prieto.
Besides having tests to familiarize soldiers on various weapons, Prieto said the class educates service members on physical security, how to find information in technical manuals and making sure they can disassemble and re-assemble weapons.
Prieto compared weapons’ principles of operation, which is one of the more important parts of the class, to the moving parts of a vehicle.
“We show them how a weapon should function, so they will know where the malfunction is. It’s like if a car is leaking water; you go to where the water source is.
Another student attending the armorer course, Sgt. Todd Lawrence, who is an infantryman assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 77th Infantry Regiment, 4th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, based out of Fort Bliss, Texas. He said he did not know that much about some of the weapons but the class gave him the knowledge on how to take them apart.
Before being chosen to be unit armorer the native of Las Cruces, N.M., said he knew a little about weapons documentation but didn’t realize how much responsibility being the unit armorer was.
“If anyone gets the opportunity to be an armorer, definitely get in the class, it is really worth it,” said Lawrence.
Upon completion of the two-week course, the service members will be able to go back to their company, battery or detachment and properly manage their unit arms room.