FORT McCOY, Wis. –
Working in teams of three, Soldiers from within the 468th Chemical Battalion umbrella attacked the ranges here to complete crew-served weapon gunner Table VI, May 11, 2021.
Soldiers from the Army Reserve’s 354th, 379th and 392nd Chemical Companies fired .50-caliber and M-240B machine guns aiming for a score of at least 700 points in 10 separate engagements. The table was broken up into day and night fire at both stationary and moving targets to reach the qualification standards.
“We have them out here to increase their proficiency in these weapons and increase their Soldier skills,” said Lt. Col. Rickey Sears, commander of the Little Rock, Ark., based 468th Chem. Bn. “This is part of our [mission essential] tasks. We’re trying to get these gun crews ready so that way they can be in that convoy protection platform and protect any convoys if we were ever to mobilize for that mission.”
For many of these Soldiers whose primary mission is as a Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear Specialist, or 74D, this training was a stark change to their typical duties and they incurred a bit of a learning curve during the week-long train-up for the live-fire qualification.
“Starting off the first couple chalks has been a little rough. But, after the second chalk, we’ve been seeing more gun crews coming through here and qualifying,” said Capt. Tumoqua Murray, assistant operations officer and officer in charge for the qualification range, 468th Chem. Bn. “We make sure that they go through a decent amount of training prior to coming here. All the mistakes that they can make before they get here, we want them to make so that when they get here their skills have sharpened and they’re able to hit their targets with no issues.”
That detailed training helped Soldiers like Spc. Jade Green from the Arlington Heights, Ill.-based 379th Chem. Co. become more confident and prepared to perform at the qualification range.
“At the beginning I was quite nervous because we didn’t have a lot of hands on with this but now I’m feeling pretty good. For these last six days I’ve received a lot of knowledge and I feel way more confident,” she said.
Green said the ultimate key to success will be how well the crew communicates and works together through the duration of the qualification process.
“If you have a crew that’s communicating with you and telling you where your shots are going or if they see something before you do, that speeds it up and it makes you more confident as a gunner, too,” she said.
Once all crews complete the qualification process, Sears said there will be an opportunity to find out which crew is the best.
“The Soldiers are pumped and they’re ready to get behind the weapons and fire them,” he said. “We’ve got a plan to put the top five crews into a competition at the end to see who our top gun crew is. So they’re really excited about that and the competition is fierce right now.”
“We’re going to go out there and do our best and we’re going to see,” Green said. “The goal, of course, is to be the first one, the top one. So we’re going to do everything we can to get there.”
Murray said the focus is on each crew to be at their best when qualification begins.
“This is the crème de la crème, once they come to Range 2, this is it. So, it’s all or nothing,” he said.