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NEWS | Nov. 3, 2020

Air Force combat arms keeps Army cadets sharp on weapons skills

By Staff Sgt. Patrick Wyatt Grand Forks Air Force Base Public Affairs

United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from the University of North Dakota conducted weapons familiarization training at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance facility here, Oct. 24.

Having a close relationship with the ROTC Battalion, Grand Forks Air Force Base was first on their list of phones calls when they found themselves without a shooting range.

“Typically we’ll go to Camp Grafton, but they have had some range maintenance going on,” said Capt. David Ayers, UND Military Science assistant professor. “Luckily we had the chance to come shoot here, and we were accepted with open arms.”

Firearm safety, marksmanship and overall weapons familiarization is one of the many essential skills that cadets learn in the ROTC program. For many cadets, they go from never having handled a firearm, to assessment-ready in just a few short years.

The UND Army ROTC Battalion requires cadets to complete weapons familiarization training twice a year and they are evaluated annually starting their junior year.

“Every summer, juniors go to an assessment camp, where they are assessed on multiple different aspects of being a soldier,” said Ayers. “One of those aspects is weapons qualification. So any time we get the chance to shoot, is a good thing.”

Being attached to colleges, ROTC detachments have a big job logistically. Not only do these units constantly coordinate with local military installations, but are often working with other branches of the military to obtain equipment and resources.

“We’re happy to be able to support our partners at the universities, especially in the ROTC programs,” said Major Chad Atkinson-Adams, 319th Security Forces commander. “Every interaction is an opportunity to help build leaders for the future, not only with a skills familiarization, but in associating these cadets with active duty military leaders who can provide real-talk and mentorship, shaping the future for the Army and Air Force.”

After working with Ayers, Tech. Sgt. Alonzo Clark, 319 SFS combat arms instructor, and his team were able to provide a full day of range access, four combat arms instructors and more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition.

“We got the call, and it was a no-brainer,” said Clark. “Our mission is to train and equip shooters for a more lethal force, and that will never start or stop at this installation. These are the future leaders of our brothers in arms.”

A lot of pre-planning goes into a successful training event and the ROTC leadership team, along with their cadets, expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to utilize Air Force capabilities in order to maintain training standards.

“Some things we have, and some things we don’t have,” said Ayers. “We are extremely lucky to be in a great area in Grand Forks, and Grand Forks Air Force Base has always been helpful to us.”