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NEWS | Nov. 9, 2021

Soldiers have their sights on readiness

By Spc. Christie Ann Belfort 362nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 304th Regiment (USMA), 104th Training Division (Leader Training), conducted an annual Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) weapons qualification table on Oct. 21-22 at Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (DRFTA), Massachusetts.

The training was an evaluated exercise on Soldiers’ individual weapons qualification, contributing to their unit’s readiness. A priority of the chief of the Army Reserve is individual Soldier readiness, and EST training is a paramount component in maintaining that readiness.

“The primary mission is to get as many people in our unit qualified … with night fire, CBRN-E [Chemical Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive] day fire and CBRN-E night fire,” said Staff Sgt. Travis Thibeau, a signal support specialist with Bravo Company of the 3-304th.

The EST simulates live weapon training events that directly support individual and crew-served weapons qualification, including individual marksmanship, small unit collective and judgmental escalation-of-force exercises in a controlled environment. It reinforces basic marksmanship and highlights areas needing improvement.

“We’re also identifying any of their individual deficiencies and assist them so they’re not experience that in the future,” said Thibeau. “We want to push them through, not throw them through, making sure that they’re getting what they need.”

Maintaining readiness at times presents its challenges, to include reserving resources and time for a live range. The EST provides a satisfactory solution and mitigates some of these challenges.

“Getting time on an EST is easier than getting time on the range,” said Army Staff Sgt. Richard Fullam. “It makes it easier for Soldiers to train on their shooting skills and save money on ammo. I think it’s a pretty important piece of hardware to have.”

In addition to time constraints, cost and safety concerns were factors as well.

The Soldiers appreciated the opportunity to perform EST training during their drill weekend. Not only did they receive vital training, it was also a gratifying experience.

“I think that EST is outstanding,” said Fullam. “I really love the EST and the way it can incorporate different scenarios depending on the mission. It’s a key component for Army Readiness.”