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NEWS | May 1, 2019

Increasing readiness in the Pacific

By Sgt. Stephanie Ramirez U.S. Army Reserve Command

For decades, hundreds of U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers had to fly across the Pacific Ocean to qualify on their individual weapons. But now, Soldiers in American Samoa finally have their own modular small arms range on home soil. 

On Apr. 26, 2019, Brig. Gen. Douglas F. Anderson, the commander for the 9th Mission Support Command, Talauega Ale, the attorney general in American Samoa, and Le’I Sonny Thompson, the commissioner of public safety in American Samoa, opened the doors to the first MSAR in America’s Army Reserve during a grand opening ceremony. 

According to the manufacturer, Laser Sharp LLC, the MSAR is a state of the art, self-contained indoor range with the highest safety ratings. This range allows Soldiers to qualify on their individual weapon system and meet U.S. Army standards. 

“Our ultimate goal is to make every Soldier more capable, combat-ready, and lethal,” said Anderson. 

“As a Soldier, any chance you get, you should be putting rounds down range and training to become more proficient with your individual weapon system. The MSAR allows us to do that in the location where the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers live and drill.”

The U.S. Army Reserve in American Samoa was activated in the 1980s. During its early years, the units trained on an outdoor range that posed many safety concerns to both the Soldiers and the environment. 

The U.S. Army Reserve volunteered to shutdown the range due to these concerns. As a result, the leadership made the decision to fly the units to Hawaii once a year so Soldiers can qualify. 

“It was a good solution, and it worked but it was an enormous cost to the American tax payer,” said Lt. Col. Charles K. Djou, the chief of administrative and civil law for the Theater Support Group-Pacific and the lead attorney for the development and construction of the MSAR. 

“Building this MSAR and locating it right in American Samoa will not only help increase unit readiness and reduce cost to the American tax payer, but it will also keep our Soldiers integrated with their families and with their community.” 

Family is a cornerstone in Samoan culture and according to Staff Sgt. Laauli Tima keeping the Soldiers at home is one of the biggest benefits of having a range at home. 

“Our family will always need us, so being away from them is hard,” said Tima, who is assigned to the 100th Battalion, C Company, 442nd Infantry Regiment in American Samoa. 

In addition to being a training range for the Soldiers in American Samoa, the U.S. Army Reserve is also opening up the range for the American Samoa Police Department to use.

Through the partnership with the American Samoa Police Department, the U.S. Army Reserve is going to help the civilian police force get trained and certified on their weapons.

This is a win-win situation, for the Soldiers and the community in American Samoa,” said Djou.