Story by Spc. Michael Graham and Pfc. Benjamin Butler, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C
BAGHDAD—The ability to fire one’s rifle accurately is among the most critical skills a Soldier can possess. To improve that skill, Soldiers with Company A “Aces,” 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center conducted a combined short-range marksmanship range Jan. 19 at Joint Security Station Nasir Wa Salaam, Iraq.
However, this time the Aces were not alone on the range. Soldiers from the 24th Brigade, 6th Iraq Army Division and Ugandan security contractors with Special Operations Consulting Inc. also participated. The goal of the range was to improve basic rifle marksmanship as well as support the relationship between the three organizations—collectively responsible for the security of JSS Nasir Wa Salaam.
“(The range) was an excellent opportunity for U.S. Forces to cross-train with the SOC security forces and IA leadership,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Parsons, the primary range instructor with Company A, 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt. and a Louisville, Ky., native.
A working knowledge of the tactics and abilities of our operational partners is an essential part of running a successful JSS and completing the company mission. These ranges are ways for officers and noncommissioned officers to teach their Soldiers how to work with other groups, Parsons said.
“It was good to build familiarization and confidence with one another’s skills and techniques while maintaining a safe and entertaining work environment,” he said.
Safety was one of the concerns when planning and operating the event. SRM training provides a fast-paced, combat-focused event for Soldiers to sharpen their skills. To mitigate the risks, two noncommissioned officers were assigned to oversee each firer at all times.
“It was a well-instructed range,” said Pfc. Pieter James, a medic with Company A, 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt. and an Augusta, Ga., native. “I was able to build muscle memory needed for marksmanship skills.”
Company A Soldiers always attempt to run their ranges with high standards, James said.
“The mastery of these basic skills is what has brought (Company A) into the level of excellence it is now,” James said.
“For SOC group security members it is more than just an exciting opportunity for us to train with U.S. Forces at the tip of the spear,” said Travis Stroh, an operations officer with SOC Inc., at JSS Nasir Wa Salaam and a Provo, Utah, native. “It is learning from subject matter experts to ensure survivability of both U.S. Forces and SOC (personnel).”
The company plans to continue training events, like the Jan. 19 SRM range, through the end of their stay at JSS Nasir Wa Salaam. They plan to incorporate training on combatives, communications, and a host of other tasks.
“A skilled fighting force is a successful fighting force and the Aces never rest in attaining that success,” Parsons said.