Trainers Training And Trainers Trained

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Soldiers from C-Co. 3-304th (USMA) engage their targets at close range during a reflexive fire training at Fort Devens on October 17, 2020. The Soldiers practiced their skills at quickly engaging targets with a series of close quarters combat drills during live-fire exercises to develop techniques and capabilities to improve their marksmanship knowledge and ability.

A routine trip to the range for Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment (United States Military Academy) quickly became an opportunity to gain knowledge from an experienced Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) instructor in rifle marksmanship and to train an ROTC Cadet on the fundamentals of pistol marksmanship.

Sgt. 1st Class Mark Sargent, from Bravo Company, 3-304th provided preliminary marksmanship instruction to Cadet Ryan Camille of the Baystate Battalion (ROTC). Camille had never fired a pistol prior to his instruction, and the training ensured that his technical knowledge would help him in training fellow Cadets in the Baystate Battalion. Lt. Col. Andrew Craven, commander of 3-304th, said of Camille’s training, “not only do new skills take time to develop, but people learn at different speeds. In this case, being introduced to a weapon early, and in an environment that was encouraging and low risk, was ideal for a Cadet with no prior experience. I’m happy we could provide that and confident it will be a solid foundation for successful marksmanship at Cadet Summer Training.”

Sgt. First Class Mark Sargent of B-Co. 3-304th (USMA) delivers Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction to Cadet Ryan Camille, of the Baystate Battalion (ROTC). Camille had never fired a pistol and was receiving his first block of instruction on operating an M9. Sargent has extensive experience in training cadets on multiple weapons systems after years of service in the 304th and as part of his civilian background.

 

Twelve Soldiers from 3-304th received a block of instruction on reflexive fire and movement techniques from Master Sgt. Alan Sutton, a Senior Military Science Instructor with The Baystate Battalion ROTC. Sutton provided an in-depth instruction to 12 soldiers from Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Companies on ready-up drills, movement in a 4-man stack, acquisition of targets while stationary and while moving.

The drills were designed to increase muscle memory and create good sight pictures for the Soldiers while engaging targets in common combat scenarios. “You must own your own battlespace,” Sutton said to the Soldiers as he explained proper fighting stance and balance. Sutton said he wanted to desensitize the Soldiers to overpressure from rifle fire in close quarters. Moving as a unit is essential to close-quarters combat situations, “knowing what it feels like when Soldiers next to you fires his weapon when you are close to him is part of preparing for combat.”

A Soldier from A-Co. 3-304th (USMA) engages a target at close range during a reflexive fire training at Fort Devens on October 17, 2020. Soldiers were trained on close quarters engagement and reflexive fire techniques to improve training capabilities and increase marksmanship knowledge and ability.

 

Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Goulet has nine years of experience training West Point Cadets on rifle marksmanship and said he greatly benefited from Sutton’s instruction, “this was an excellent way to develop my skills by being able to shoot standing, pivoting, and walking. It was an excellent training and I look forward to doing more in the future.”

Most of the Soldiers Sutton trained had previously participated in Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) training at Fort Benning, GA. “These Soldiers are some of the subject matter experts in marksmanship for the battalion,” said B Co. 1st Sgt. Kerry Getchell. “This training not only helps to build skills for training West Point Cadets on summer missions but will help train all Soldiers in the battalion in fundamental marksmanship skills.”

Master Sgt. Alan Sutton, Senior Military Science Instructor with the Baystate Battalion ROTC coaches Staff Sgt. Lee Fellman, B-Co., 3-304th (USMA) at Fort Devens, MA on proper positioning for engaging a target while moving laterally on October 17, 2020. Sutton provided instruction to Soldiers who had previously attended Army Marksmanship Unit courses on advanced marksmanship techniques during October Battle Assembly.

 

The culminating event of the training was a live-fire exercise where Sutton moved a 4-man stack across a range as they acquired and engaged targets while moving. Soldiers performed reflexive fire on targets at 10, 15 and 20 meters, then moved in-line across their targets and engaged the targets while continuing lateral movement.

According to Craven, his exchange of knowledge between both groups helped develop trainers and future leaders of the Army while expanding the possibility of future training engagements between the Baystate Battalion and the 3-304th.

“On its face, this exchange resulted in Soldiers’ familiarization or, in the case of M9 pistol, qualification on individual weapons, a necessary warrior skill. But on a deeper level, the exchange fostered a relationship between supported and supporting organizations, helping to develop rapport and a common understanding of each other. The original intent was to exchange knowledge, but I think the relationship building may have been equally valuable.”

Master Sgt. Alan Sutton, Senior Military Science Instructor with the Baystate Battalion ROTC conducts ready-up drills with Soldiers from 3-304th (USMA) at Fort Devens, MA on October 17, 2020. Sutton provided instruction to the Soldiers on how to properly hold and aim an M16-A2 rifle during close quarters engagements.

 

3-304th REGT Soldiers have a unique mission set within the Army Reserve, they serve as trainers for West Point Cadets during Cadet Basic Training and Cadet Summer Training, and as subject matter experts during the annual Sandhurst Military Skills Competition.

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