Thursday, April 6, 2017 –
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — The air smelled of carbon as Soldiers, assigned to the 85th Support Command headquarters, fired rounds at their targets down range. One-by-one rounds from each muzzle blazed a path, in many cases finding center mass of their goal.
The 85th SPT CMD is partnered with First Army, who oversees much of the operational requirements for its Army Reserve training support battalions. The 85th Support Command ensures the assets are in place for those units to accomplish their goals, such as budgets, medical readiness, primary military education and additional personnel and readiness actions.
Operating as a headquarters command, the 85th Support Command was ready to test their marksmanship skills in what makes being a Soldier first; and Capt. Rebecca Spohr, Headquarters and Headquarters Company Commander, shared the important of getting back to basic Soldiering.
“It’s refreshing and necessary,” shared Spohr. “To continue to be the most capable, combat ready, and lethal reserve force in our nation’s history. It’s important to come out here to maintain our basic Soldier skills.”
The 85th Support Command executed a 100 percent qualification rate on the M16 rifle range with many Soldiers hitting more than 80 percent of their targets, qualifying as sharpshooters. The M9 range had an 88 percent qualification rate and the vast majority of those qualified Soldiers ranked as sharp shooters.
“This gives us the skill to be that lethal force required by the Army,” explained Command Sgt. Maj. Vernon Perry III, Command Sergeant Major, 85th Support Command. “The skill level of our Soldiers is augmented by the fact that many in their civilian capacity may have some type of law enforcement background, are avid hunters, or spent time around different weapon systems.”
Coordinating use for a range for live-fire qualification for a unit that cannot regularly participate at a range can be a daunting task, but the hard work and dedication to ensuring Soldier readiness proved to be value-added.
“ I see the range as an opportunity to not just re-blue ourselves to basic Soldier fundamentals, but also a chance to develop junior leaders,” explained Brig. Gen. Frederick R. Maiocco Jr., Commanding General, 85th Support Command. “All the logistics required to get all of the Soldiers to the range; the requirements to ensure we have food and water and sanitation; and the coordination necessary to run the range. This is a great leadership lab.”
The 85th Support Command is considered a non-deployable unit as a whole. Regardless they maintain the same standards as any other unit, including their basic skills in marksmanship.
Although the headquarters has capabilities to conduct weapons qualification at their Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 facility, a state-of-the-art weapons simulation trainer, that one day a year on the range is crucial for the real experience of qualifying on a live-fire range.
“Pistol training is a strength of mine, it’s what I do in my civilian job,” explained Staff Sgt. Ryan Suthard, who felt compelled to help others qualify. ”I wanted to employ what I know to them and help them out. One team, one fight.”
With more than four thousand rounds heading downrange, nearly every Soldier qualified on either the M-16 rifle or M9 pistol, proving that even a command primarily focused in an administrative role is ready and lethal should they be called to action.