FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. - Soldiers are lined up, weapons ready; they begin to walk forward raising their weapons to engage their target. They stay on-line; a musical rhythm of rounds resonates as they fire their three-round bursts.
The U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers of the 477th Engineer Platoon, 388th Engineer Company, headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, conducted reflexive fire July 16 during Operation River Assault 2014 at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.
"Reflexive fire is individual movement designed to allow troops to fire on the move," said 2nd Lt. James Hardy, platoon leader of the 477th. "Most of the time in the past they had to fire from a standing, kneeling or prone position. This actually adds a little more realism in it where they have to fire from different angles, while moving as well as under stressful conditions."
Reflexive fire is a vital skill for Soldiers to learn because it's more likely in a combat situation.
"The reason it's important is because in a combat scenario you're not just standing and shooting," added Hardy, a New Orleans native. "A lot of time you're running and gunning, you're out of breath, you're under stress and this is the best way we can simulate those conditions in a controlled environment: giving them the stress, out of breath, high heat rates, heavy breathing and still having them able to maintain accuracy under fire and under stress."
The Soldiers found the training enjoyable and said they felt it was good to train firing on the move.
"I think it was an awesome exercise," said Spc. Boris Gorrita, 477th combat engineer from West Palm Beach. "I would say it was good for experience, especially considering when we qualify we always do one round, maybe controlled pairs and we're never moving around so if we're going out to the field or we're deploying overseas anywhere we'd have no idea, you never know what it's like."
While the reflexive fire is an essential task, it's not the only one the Soldiers will be learning
"What this is for us is a Soldier-first training as opposed to a mission-first training event so we are looking to develop our Soldiers," said Hardy. "Through that we'll being doing some MOUT courses, some military operations in urban terrain, which will consist of breaching and clearing, as well as helo-casting, which is jumping out of helicopters into the ocean - it's a quick insertion method - and a lot of individual Soldier tasks such as weapon drills, working on their (physical fitness), a lot of individual tasks."
The unit plans to work hard on their training for the next two weeks, but also made time for Soldier care.
"We have some time built in to actually work with the Soldiers, not just on training, but with financial issues and make sure all the Soldiers are up-to-date on their schooling," said Hardy. "It gets us to bring them together and really make sure everyone is on the same page; everyone is up-to-date."
While all the Soldier care and training is important, what Hardy really wants is for the Soldiers to get a good feel for full-time Army life.
"What we want for them to get out of this whole River Assault is not just the training - the training is extremely important - but what it's like to be in a garrison environment on an active-duty military base. Getting out of the mentality of a two-day a month type training," said Hardy. "They have to eat, live, sleep and breathe the Army."
The training has already reaped benefits for the Soldiers and the unit.
"This builds cohesion and helps us stand out as leaders," said Hardy. "This is actually allowing us to truly bond through training and what the Army puts us through, but it builds a lot of camaraderie and team spirit."