Machine gun training helps develop future squad leaders
By Gerald Williams, Bayonet & Saber /
To help them become better leaders, Soldiers in the Advanced Leaders Course learned to disassemble, reassemble and fire the M240 machine gun Aug. 3 at Wagner Range.
Groups of Soldiers cycled through the stations on the range with the objective of successfully mastering the M240. Soldiers were on week three of the five-week course.
“To qualify with the M240, we have Soldiers shoot at tombstone targets with the objective of hitting the target in the accurate area simulating a man size target,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond Robinson, an instructor for the Infantry Advanced Leaders Course. “These Soldiers are training to be machine gun squad leaders, so that they can teach other Soldiers how to operate and safely use the M240.”
“This is very crucial training,” said Staff Sgt. Dylan Marter, Infantry Advanced Leaders Course. “Especially for future squad leaders in the United States Army Infantry. As an infantryman, this is our most basic weapon. Being trained proficiently on how to use it, makes or breaks us as infantry platoons.”
“They cycle between these stations before firing live rounds to give them proficiency. Crew drills gives them the ability to move up and establish the support by fire,” said Marter. “Range card allows them to sketch out what is out on the range to target. Live fire gives them the chance to practice how to properly and effectively engage targets.”
Sgt. 1st class Kyle Skaggs, a student in the Infantry Advanced Leaders Course, said that finding new ways of developing leaders is important in strengthening Soldiers in conjunction with the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s Line of Effort 2: Master the Fundamentals and Develop Leaders.
“For machine gun leader training, they can take what they’ve learned here and bring it back to their units,” said Skaggs. “This strengthens our leader roles within the line of effort. The more knowledgeable our squad leaders are about the weaponry we use the stronger our fighting force.”
“With Soldier 2020, we’ve found other ways to help train future Soldiers in the Army. We’ve seen that millennial Soldiers learn best when they learn through experience versus by using just traditional PowerPoint and lectures,” said Skaggs. “We always want to find the best way for our Soldiers to learn and retain information on military weaponry and procedures so that they can use it effectively and properly in combat.”
“Anybody can fire a machine gun but it takes someone who knows what they’re doing to know how to fire one proficiently,” said Robinson.