Bring up the subject of "rounds" in Army medicine, and you're probably talking about professional group visits to hospital wards.

When Soldiers from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at Natick Soldier Systems Center mentioned rounds Aug. 12 at a range on Fort Devens, they referred to the kind that you shoot from M-16 rifles.

Dozens of USARIEM Soldiers gathered at the 25-meter range to zero and qualify on the M-16. Silhouettes on the paper targets represented distances from 25 to 300 meters. On a cloudless summer morning, they took turns shooting holes in the targets from prone supported, prone unsupported, and kneeling positions.

"We have plenty of rounds," said Staff Sgt. Rodrick Polk, who ran the training. "USARIEM actually hasn't had a chance to run a range in years. This one, we're actually doing ourselves. So that's why it's so exciting."

Because USARIEM has no weapons of its own, the Soldiers borrowed the M-16s from a Reserve unit at Devens.

"That's how we got this range right here, is another unit's willing to let us use their weapons," Polk said.

According to Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Persaud, USARIEM first sergeant, he usually sends one or two Soldiers at a time to qualify with other units.

"I try to get these guys out … piggybacking people so that they get to fire," Persaud said. "Other than that, it's tough, really tough. So we are thrilled to put this on. It's a skill. If you don't to hone it, you're going to lose it."

That skill can be a key to career success for Soldiers, even those involved in research.

"The other piece of this, too, is promotion," said Col. Gaston Bathalon, USARIEM commander. "You need as many points as you can (get), and this is one of the things that they need to do well at."

Specialist Aaron Omdahl hit 31 of 40 silhouettes on his paper target to easily qualify.

"It's important for every Soldier to keep up with these types of skills," said Omdahl, "regardless of whether or not they are in a line unit."

Bathalon couldn't agree more. He recalled what people said about Natick Soldiers when he first arrived here.

"When I got here, it was not uncommon to hear people say that we're different," Bathalon said. "We may be a bit unique, but all units within the Army have their own unique mission and skill sets, so we're not different.

"We're held to the same standards as everybody else and, you know, even when you're working in a hospital in the MEDCOM, you go out to the range. You don't want to get far away from your Army past."

Major Scott Goldman, USARIEM's executive officer, appreciated the chance to do some shooting.

"Officers, especially those stationed at research institutes, are rarely provided with the opportunity to fire a rifle," Goldman said. "Additionally, it has been about seven years since the last time USARIEM hosted a full-scale M-16 range.

"Although I have come to expect routine excellence from the USARIEM NCO corps, I was thoroughly impressed with the thought, time and effort that went into this training event."

Page last updated Wed August 17th, 2011 at 07:46