'Raiders' train at Udairi Range
March 16, 2013
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait. -- Two "Raider" Brigade battalions enhanced their warrior skills during weapons systems training at Udairi Range, Kuwait, March 4-7.
In addition to fulfilling annual certification requirements with the M16 rifle and M4 carbine, Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st ABCT, 4th Inf. Div., trained with M249 light machine guns, M240B machine guns, .50 caliber M2 machine guns, M320A1 grenade launchers and MK-19 40 mm grenade machine guns.
"We don't have any distractions out here," said1st Lt. Eric Burse, platoon leader, Company A, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Reg. "This deployment is the perfect time for us to perfect our skills. It's tough to be away from our Families, but this is a great opportunity for all of us to focus on training and improving ourselves as individual Soldiers and as a cohesive unit."
Burse said he looks forward to conquering the challenges his platoon, and the "Raider" brigade as a whole, will face during their deployment.
"Out here all we have is each other," Burse said. "As this deployment progresses, the Soldiers in my platoon and company are going to build some very strong bonds, train very hard and become an even more efficient fighting force."
The four-day range operation marked the first of many training rotations slated for Raiders in coming months.
Sgt. Michael Erickson, cannon crewmember, Battery A, 4th Bn., 42nd FA Reg., emphasized the importance of conducting comprehensive training early in a deployment.
"These are the weapons we mount on our vehicles during combat operations," said Erickson. "We need all of our gunners, drivers and as many other Soldiers as possible, to feel comfortable with these weapons, know how to break them down and have a good feel for what they are capable of."
Even after months of training leading up to the deployment, Pfc. Matthew Coulter, infantryman, Company A, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Reg, said he learned a great deal about how to operate and maintain some of the larger caliber weapons.
"I haven't fired the MK-19 since basic training, during weapons familiarization, more than a year ago," Coulter said. "This time I got to break it down, I learned how to clean it and respond to malfunctions, and I was able to fire a lot of rounds on the range. I feel a lot more comfortable with the weapon now."
Erickson said combat readiness must be the top priority of any combat brigade, regardless of their current mission.
"We aren't deployed in a combat role right now, but we are combat-arms Soldiers," Erickson said. "Maintaining and improving our tactical and technical skills is what we do when we aren't actively involved in conflict. Here at Camp Buehring and Udairi Range, we have the time and resources to become one of the most competent units in the Army."
Raider Soldiers will continue a rigorous training schedule throughout their deployment to Kuwait, in addition to partnering with local armed forces to foster mutual respect and stability in the region.