By Sgt. 1st Class John Buol
The 345th Military Intelligence Battalion (MIRC) enlisted members of the Army Reserve Marksmanship Program to help conduct their small arms training, leading to a better than 99% qualification rate. Conducted at the McCrady Training Center in Eastover, South Carolina near Fort Jackson, the 345th MI held an extended Battle Assembly focused on getting their Soldiers up to speed on the Army's new small arms training doctrine.
"Our goal was to break the negative effects of Army institutional inertia," said Lt. Col. Luis Garcia, the 345th MI BN Commander. "We can't make an improvement by doing things the same as before."
During qualification held the previous year, the 345th MI BN qualified less than 35 of its Battalion's Soldiers. This year, those numbers increased to a 99.2% qualification rate, the best the Battalion has done in a number of training cycles. Part of the of improvement was due to instruction led by Army Reserve Marksmanship Program to counteract common issues. "I learned my drill sergeants at Initial Entry Training were wrong about a number of things, including how the sights work, how to use them, or correct zero procedures. I didn't know any of this until I received this instruction from the Shooting Team," said Spc. Paula Delgado, HHD 345th MI Bn. "I also learned that I'm cross-eye dominant, which was a concept my drill sergeants never discussed or identified."
The 345th MI Bn. also made full use of the Army's new small arms training doctrine, starting with the current zero targets. Despite now being official for three years, the 345th had to go outside of the Fort Jackson area to locate these targets. "We called range operations at different locations throughout South Carolina and Georgia with no initial luck, but eventually found that Fort Benning Range Operations had some for our use," said Sgt. Jenny Lewis, Supply Sergeant for A Co., 345th MI. "It took a 3.5 hour drive to pick them up so our Battalion would have them but I got it done. Mr. Outlaw (yes, that is his name) at Fort Benning was extremely helpful."
Despite issues with local active duty support at Fort Jackson, the 345th MI found the South Carolina National Guard at McCrady to be knowledgeable and supportive. "We're already tracking on the new standards and equipment on our end, including having barricades for the drills and qualification courses. We're ready to support Soldiers on this in FY2020." said First Sgt. Andrew Goza, South Carolina National Guard. In addition to supporting Soldier training at McCrady, First Sgt. Goza, a winner of the Governor's Twenty marksmanship award through the National Guard, also works with the South Carolina National Guard competitive marksmanship program.
On top of the 345th learning about the Army's new small arms standards, the Battalion implemented a Postal Match and Excellence In Competition events into their training as an additional gated and progressive approach. Both events feature shooting at a faster and more stringent pace than normal qualification. These events are available to all Soldiers and units in the Army Reserve.
Maj. Jason Konefal, Executive Officer of the 345th MI BN, led the way by winning the 345th MI BN EIC Pistol event with a score of 162-3X (162 points with three tie-breaking X-ring hits.) The 345th had 87 Soldiers eligible to complete the EIC and the top ten percent of the finishers will receive formal Department of Army Orders in their permanent record awarding "Leg" points and authorizing wear of the bronze Excellence In Competition badge on their Army Service Uniform.
Their event results and video can be viewed at http://armyreservemarksman.info/battalion-qual-postal-match-eic/