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NEWS | April 25, 2017

Soldiers tackle weapon basics, look toward certification

By Sgt. Quentin Johnson 211th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Twelve US Army Reserve Soldiers went back to the fundamentals during a weapons range at Camp Swift, April 22, with hopes of achieving certification and setting personal records at an upcoming live-fire exercise – Operation Cold Steel – April 24-28, 2017 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Operation Cold Steel is a new Army Reserve exercise with a purpose of qualifying select gun crews to support requirements for Army Early Response Forces, AERF, which allows forces to deploy on short notice when needed, according to a March 2017 Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office article.
The Soldiers, assigned to 980th Forward Support Company, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 980th Engineer Battalion, Austin, are scheduled to certify on unmounted, crew-serve weapons such as the M249, M240 and M2 .50 Cal. Browning Machine Guns, during the exercise, said 1st Lt. Mervin Barrow, FSC company commander.
“Our goal is to see these Soldiers qualify, but also gain new perspective on these weapons they may or may not have used before,” added Barrow, a Williamsburg, Virginia native.

Barrow also hopes the Soldiers learn new and current standards and techniques of the weapons, which are taught by active duty and reserve master gunners.

“The Army does a great job setting standards and methodical approaches to weapons training, “said Barrow. “My Soldiers should come back from the exercise able to enhance or better our own training standards.”

Sgt. David Walton, a motor transport operator with the FSC, and a Plano, Texas, native, said he’s eager to qualify, help build other Soldiers’ confidence in their weapons, and help lead the group to success at the exercise.

Such success is surrounded in first mastering the fundamentals of an individual’s weapon, such as an M16 assault rifle or M4 carbine, said Walton.

“The weapons may be different, but the fundamentals are basically the same… like breathing and sight picture,” said Walton.

Walton said he wants his peers to have confidence in themselves, or handling such weapons could lead to adverse actions.
“Without enough confidence to use their weapons correctly, Soldiers could make unsafe mistakes, or hurt themselves,” he said.

All Soldiers in the FSC will qualify with their individual weapon before advancing to the use of crew-serve weapons, said Barrow. Those who haven’t fully mastered the basics are retrained, mentored and coached to build their confidence and achieve success.