Infantry: February 12, 2004


Every time there's a war, the American army suddenly realizes that it hasn't been providing accurate, or sufficient, weapons training. This has been happening for over sixty years. During World War II, troops were trained to fire on a known distance range at bulls eye targets. This had some usefulness for World War I type combat, but was pretty useless for most World War II action. So in the combat zones, commanders eventually set up rifle ranges that allowed more realistic weapons training, including firing from the hip and while on the move (on foot or in a vehicle.) Same thing happened in Korea and Vietnam. After Vietnam, the known distance range was finally relegated to a minor role in weapons training, but the standard rifle and pistol training was still not representative of what actually happened in combat. Now along comes Iraq and the commanders on the spot have revised the standard weapons training to cover more accurate firing situations. Much more emphasis is now placed on firing quickly, accurately and at close range from a variety of positions. Without this kind of training, the troops have to learn how to do this while under fire. This is not considered the best type of learning situation. 

Therefore, the U.S. Army has established a combat marksmanship program in Iraq. Several rifle ranges have been set where troops (from combat and non-combat units) can learn how to fire from different positions and, more importantly, get a lot of practice doing so. A special training team was sent over from the Infantry School at Fort Benning to train the trainers. The new program trains the troops to deal with the situations they are most likely to confront. For combat troops, this means gunfights at close range inside, or around, buildings. For support troops, more emphasis is on using weapons from vehicles or while guarding a base. The objective of the training is to make it automatic for troops to get off shots quickly and accurately, no matter what position they are in.


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