FORT POLK, La. -- The 1st Battalion, 353rd Infantry Regiment conducts small-arms weapons training for deploying Foreign Security Forces - Combat Advisor service members; M4 carbine, M203 grenade launcher, M9 pistol and foreign weapons training. To prepare for that mission, the battalion conducted its first M203 qualification range June 26.

Dakota Company, led by Capt. Micah Shockley and 1st Sgt. James Boucher, prepared the training and set up the range so that Soldiers of the 162nd Infantry Brigade, the battalion's higher headquarters, could participate in the second iteration of the Small Group Advisor Academy.

"The range ran flawlessly," Shockley said. "I am pretty sure it was the best range I have ever been privileged to take part in. The NCOs made this range a success ... all from Dakota Company performed with a level of unprecedented level of professionalism."
After weeks of planning, all 41 Soldiers qualified and got their first taste of how their range will operate.
"I would be remiss to forget the support we received from First Sergeant Michael Carlan of Barbarian Company and Staff Sergeant Leo Banaszak from Crusader Company. Without their help, we would not have been able to conduct an outstanding M203 range."

Attention to detail, as with anything the Army does, was important to the success of the range.
"Staff Sgt. Steven Judson, of Dakota Company, began the day by giving PMI (primary marksmanship instruction) which he researched and rehearsed for the last two months," said Maj.

Jeremy Moore, the 1st Battalion executive officer. "As a result of their hard work and careful planning, training was a success. Additionally, these members of Dakota Company were able to identify ways to improve future training for deploying combat advisors."

With the current schedule, the 162nd Inf Bde is set to pick up the first class of combat advisors at the end of August.
"Given the recent range training success and the hard work from the Small Group Advisors of 1st Battalion, deploying combat advisors will receive a world-class training experience," Moore said. " 1st Battalion will continue to hone programs of instruction and prepare lead instructors to provide professional and rewarding training as they posture for combat advisor class 81 in August.