Taking aim at the future
November 15, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- New Soldiers are expected to be training with new weapons in 2013.
Thousands of new combat rifles arrived at Fort Jackson last week and are currently being processed for use. While the weapons currently in service are suitable for training, the new weapons will give Soldiers in Basic Combat Training the opportunity to get accustomed to the tools they'll be using in the field, said Lt. Col. Shane Ousey, Fort Jackson G4.
"One of the commanding general's objectives is to modernize the equipment we're using for Soldiers in basic training," Ousey said.
Now at the post's disposal are thousands of M4 rifles, M203 grenade launchers and several M2A2 .50-caliber Machine guns.
"The biggest bonus is the M4," Ousey said. "We're working to see how we're going to incorporate it into the cycle for basic training."
New Soldiers currently train at Fort Jackson using the M16, a weapon that was put into service in the Army in 1965. The M4 went into use in the Army in 1994.
"We have two primary goals regarding our equipment modernization efforts," said Col. Kenneth Royalty, Fort Jackson chief of staff. "One is to train to standard in accordance with our Basic Combat Training program of instruction and to maximize the effectiveness of that training."
The other, he said, is to replicate the equipment Soldiers will use in their first unit of assignments.
"During our field training exercises, we want to equip both the individual Soldier and his squad with the weapons, radios and equipment that are a part of an (modified table of organization and equipment) infantry squad," Royalty said. "At the same time, we want to increase the efficiency of our basic marksmanship training, by providing rifles that are well maintained, capable of functioning safely and reliably and not distracting from our training focus. In doing this, we will provide the Army a better Soldier and lower the costs of repairing and maintaining legacy equipment."
Ousey said it's difficult to tell the age of the weapons being used for training on Fort Jackson. Some of the weapons might be as old as 20 years, he said, and have been kept in use through regular maintenance.
"The new weapons are in better shape and are what forces are using out in theater," Ousey said. "It's a more durable weapon. Some of the M16s we have here are pretty old. Even though our maintenance guys are doing a great job taking care of them, they get beat up pretty good. Soldiers still get trained properly, but this gives them more modern weapons like they'll get when they receive their first assignment."
The weapons are being processed and are expected to be in the hands of new Soldiers in January, Ousey said.