JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. –
Recently a group of U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers with the 84th Training Command spent several days here honing their marksmanship and weapons familiarization skills on the M240B automatic machine gun during Warrior Exercise 78-23-02 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
While the training on the weapon system is only a few days long, the course produces amazing results for the Soldiers who attend, according to U.S. Army Reserve Master Sgt. Jonathan Miller, with the 84th Training Command.
“When the Soldiers first arrived here, none of them had even touched a M240B machine gun before,” said Miller. “Watching these Soldiers go from not knowing anything in the beginning to being able to maneuver, manipulate the weapon system and engage targets has been a night and day difference from when they got here.”
The transition from not knowing much or anything at all about the weapon systems to being able to engage targets took several days of hands-on instruction and involved a lot of small steps along the way.
Soldiers start off with learning the basic functions of the weapons, how to load and unload it safely, how to use the traversing mechanism, how to effectively use the sights and much more.
“It's important for soldiers to receive this kind of training,” said Miller. “It allows them to stay ready and versatile in the field. It also increases the lethality of Soldiers and the Army.”
If we get deployed, there is always a risk of an ambush or an enemy engagement,” said U.S. Spc. Andrew Lodoza a Transportation Management Coordinator with the 84th Training Command. “The more you can learn about weapons, the better you are, because at the end of the day we are Soldiers, and we have to be prepared.”
After successfully learning about the weapons and firing live rounds, the teams training goes to the final phase where they mount the weapon on top of a Humvee and drive through a designated range to engage targets at varying distances.
The final phase ensures the Soldiers learn to function as a team, identifying and calling out targets or possible threats, calling in their engagements to their higher headquarters, etc. The teams must always be communicating with each other and their command.
“Being on top of the turret I can't hear anything,” said Lodoza. “They have to speak up and we have a system where they tap on my legs to tell me to fire or cease firing.”
Some Soldiers arrived here never having touched an automatic machine gun before, but one thing is certain, they will leave here with not only new found knowledge and skills, but knowledge and skills that may very well save their lives or their fellow Soldiers lives on the battlefield someday.