By LTC Carlos M. Cuebas, Chief Public Affairs officerMay 8, 2018
SALINAS, PUERTO RICO- Soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico continued developing their readiness and lethality by conducting an M9 pistol and M16 rifle weapons qualification, at the Camp Santiago Joint Training Center, Salinas, Puerto Rico, May 5-6, 2018.
Soldiers from the 393rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion led the range operations.
"Between the two days we had approximately 900 Soldiers going through the ranges. Of those, approximately 90 percent qualified in their first try," said 1st Lt. Bianca Viruet, from the 430th Quartermaster Company, who was the Officer in Charge at the rifle range.
According to Viruet, who is a Quartermaster Officer with three years of service in the U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, teamwork was key while leading the operation.
"It is important to work as a team. To work with this group of Soldiers has been an extraordinary experience. We have been able to successfully run the range, while always looking for ways to improve the operation," stated Viruet proudly.
As part of the event, Soldiers were required to participate in a Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction (PMI), to ensure everyone had a block of instruction on marksmanship skills before entering the range.
Sgt. Jorge Rodriguez, from the 215th Military Police Company, conducted the PMI at the pistol range.
"Every Soldier that has passed through this station is very motivated, wanting to learn how to improve their marksmanship skills," said Rodriguez, a native of Bayamón, Puerto Rico and who works as a civilian police officer in the Department of Emergency Services at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.
As with any U.S. Army operation, security was paramount.
"Our priority is that Soldiers are able to qualify in their assigned weapon, in a safe environment," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Nieves, Noncommissioned Officer in charge of the pistol range.
Having a Military Police element in charge of the pistol range, facilitated the qualification process.
"As Military Police Soldiers, our primary weapon is the pistol. Running the pistol range gives us the opportunity to share our skills, experience and knowledge about the qualifying process with other Soldiers," added Nieves, a native of Dorado, Puerto Rico, with 14 years of service in the Army Reserve.
During the M16 rifle qualification, Soldiers must hit the target at least 23 times in order to earn the marksmanship qualification. If the Soldier hits the target between 30 to 35 times, he or she will earn the sharpshooter qualification. To earn an expert badge, troops must hit the target between 36-40 times.
In the M9 pistol qualification, Soldiers must hit the target with at least 24 rounds to obtain the marksmanship qualification. To become a sharpshooter, troops must hit the targets with 25 to 35 rounds. Finally, to get the expert badge with the pistol, Soldiers must hit the target with 36 to 40 rounds.
Marksmanship is the paramount Soldier skill and as such, every troop assigned to the largest federal U.S. Army command in the Caribbean, must understand common firing principles and be confident in applying their firing skills, in support of the needs of the nation.
U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico has mobilized over 5,000 Soldiers around the world since 2001.