All posts by Raymond Miller

82nd Airborne Division Small Arms Master Gunner: primary weapons trainer, force modernization for individual weapons, and range liason for the 82nd.

Fire Control for Machine Guns

We are continuing our discussion on Fire control for machine guns. Specifically, we are addressing what fire control is, and what methods are available to the Paratrooper. The reference for this discussion is ATP 3-21.8 dated April 2016. Fire control includes all the actions the Paratrooper does in planning, preparing, and applying fire on a target. Generally, it is a team or squad leader who does this, but based off the nature of the Airborne, a paratrooper needs to have an understanding of fire control so as to make it more effective. Fire control is organized by whether it is terrain-based or threat-based. The team or squad leader designates targets, identifies their midpoint, ends, or flanks, and lets the gun teams know what rates of fire and classes of fire to use. The Gunner (or team) then engages on the Squad or team leaders’ signal, adjusts rates of fire, shifts, and lifts fires, all based off fire control measures. The noise and confusion of battle can limit the effectiveness of some of these methods, therefore, the Paratrooper needs to use multiple methods to ensure the signals are sent at the appropriate times. the methods are illustrated above. For today, we

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Even More On Boresighting

We are continuing our discussion on the Boresight. Specifically, we will be boresighting lasers. The reference for this is TM 9-5860-226-13&P dated August 2007. The boresight needs to be zeroed to the weapon prior to zeroing anything else. To learn how to zero the Laser Boresight, and why it is important to do this, reference the TTP Thursday post from last week. Lasers are handled differently than the primary optic for the weapon. To set up the weapon for lasers, you will place the weapon in as stable a platform as possible with the boresight on its point on the offset. The Paratrooper does not need to hold the weapon, a gun vice or shadowbox will work. Once that has been accomplished, you will then use the adjusters on the laser to adjust to the point on the target for the IR aiming laser. Always use the IR aiming laser, not the visible aiming laser. The IR is the primary laser you will use in combat, and even though they share the same optical bench, you want to zero the primary laser to the weapon. The Paratrooper does not need to be behind the weapon at this point, as there

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Q/A on IWTS

We are answering some questions that have been brought up in reference to the Integrated Weapons Training Strategy and how it is reported. As we discussed in previous posts, there are six tables for each gate, and four gates that take the unit from individual training through unit training. Specifically today, we will address what it takes for a squad or.vehicle crew to be qualified. The reference for our discussion is TC 3-20.0 dated June 2015. Above illustrates what this looks like for the squad. Table I is a Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures evaluation. Gate II is simulations: for the squad, this entails use of simulation systems to practice coordination between the teams. Gate III is the TADSS, for the squad is MILES Gears. Table IV is the squad STX lane. It is dry-fire as an organization. Paratroopers need to practice not only their shot process, but also need to be communicating with their fellow team members. Team leaders need to learn and reinforce that they are in control of what the team does or does not do. New squad leaders learn that this is where you take that step back and look at the bigger picture. Table V is

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Fire Commands

We are going to address something that is common for machine guns and AT weapons to need to know; fire commands. The reference for this is FM 3-22.68 Dated July 2006. A fire command is a command given to deliver effective fire on a target quickly and without confusion. There are six elements to a fire command: the Alert that the guns are going to fire, a cardinal direction to the target, along with an estimated range, a description of the target, the Method of fire, and the command to fire. We will discuss each of these elements separately. The alert lets the gun teams know which guns will be engaging the threat: Gun 1, Gun 2, or both. The direction can be done one of three ways: by speaking, pointing (either with a hand, or with a laser), with tracer fire, or with reference points. The description gives the gunners a visualization of what the target is, if they cannot see it clearly (or at all, in the case of defilade fires). The range is an estimation by the weapons squad leader. A technique that can be used is to take the laser range finders that are a part

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More Zeroing With Boresight

We are going to continue our discussion on the Laser Boresight. Specifically, we are going to talk about how to zero the enabler with a zeroed LBS. The reference for this is TM 9-5860-226-13&P dated August 2007. To learn how to zero the Laser Boresight, and why it is important to do this, reference the TTP Thursday post from last week. Now that we have established a good solid zero for the boresight, the next task we will conduct will be zeroing the weapon. To do that, we start with as solid a position as possible. There are three people involved in this process: the Weapon man making corrections to the optic, the Target man who has secured the appropriate offset to the wall, and the Paratrooper whose weapon is being zeroed. The Paratrooper assumes a very stable position. The prone supported with a sand sock if possible is ideal. Bench rests or a gun vise are an excellent method of securing the weapon as well. The Paratrooper acquires their sight picture with their optic, and as soon as their dot is on the dot at the center of the target, they call out ‘mark.’ The Target man looks at

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Machine Gun: Ammunition Planning

We are continuing our discussion on machine gun theory, specifically we are addressing an oft overlooked thing for support by fire: Ammunition planning. I know most of us thought we were joining the military and we wouldn't have to do math anymore, but we were wrong. Ammunition planning is in doctrine in the ATP 3-21.8 dated April of 2016. The first thing you must know is what the rates of fire are for your specific weapons system. Pictures one and two illustrate the sustained, rapid, and cyclic rates of fire for our machine guns. Once that is done, as a part of the mission planning process, the weapons squad leader needs to identify key events, allocate ammunition to each event based off SOP, some units want 15 seconds of rapid rate to establish the support by fire or when shifting fires. Others want 30. The Weapons Squad Leader takes that into account and gets the total figures needed per gun. The Weapons Squad Leader then analyzes this amount and adjusts if necessary. The main planning point with this is knowing your rates of fire. Sustained should be approximately nine rounds per burst with a four to five second pause in between. That

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Calling the Shot

We are continuing our discussion on the functional element of control. Specifically we will be discussing ‘calling the shot.’ The reference for this is TC 3-22.9 Change 1, dated January 2017. Calling the shot, is when the Paratrooper notes where the sights or reticle is when the weapon discharges. This is essential so that the Paratrooper can perform a shot-by-shot analysis of their groups. This expression is usually given in a clock direction and inches from their desired point of aim. If the Paratrooper is on target, then the call is ‘center-hold.’ If the Paratrooper is honest with themselves at the beginning, there will be very few center calls. This also means that the Paratrooper is responsible for every call, both bad and good. This reinforces in the Paratroopers’ mind that they are the primary safety of the weapon, and responsible for knowing their target, what’s in front of, around, and behind it. When the shot is called, a Paratrooper can diagnose bad habits. For example, if the paratroopers keeps jerking their trigger, and they are right handed, they will notice the sights will be right of the target when the trigger breaks. Calling the shot carries over from the

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Functional Element Of Weapon Control

We are continuing our discussion on the functional element of control. Specifically, we will be addressing workspace management. The reference for this study is TC 3-22.9 dated January 2017. TC 3-22.9 defines the workspace as a spherical area, approximately 12-18 inches in diameter centered on the Paratrooper’s chin and about 12 inches in front of it. In this space is where the majority of weapons manipulations take place. The picture below illustrates what this zone looks like. The reason we use the workspace is so that the Paratrooper can maintain their eyes oriented towards the threat and still be able to conduct critical weapons tasks that require hand/eye coordination. In so doing this, the Paratrooper creates efficiency in their movements, getting the weapon fully operational in the shortest amount of time. Keep in mind, the location of the workspace will vary depending upon the firing position being used. The only way to determine what is efficient for the Paratrooper is for them to actually get into the positions and attempt to manipulate the weapon through the dry-fire drills. Many different techniques can be employed to make the workspace more efficient. An example is the placement of the buttstock, some prefer

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Conflicting SDZ’s

We’re continuing our discussion on Surface Danger Areas (SDZ's). Specifically, we will be discussing how they conflict with each other. I will be using Macridge impact area here on Fort Bragg, NC for our discussion. Delta company, 2-505 PIR occupied range 44 on the eastern side of the impact area. When they briefed range control during the range conference the week prior, they said the were only firing the M3 MAAWS. The day of the range, they decide to do some familiarization training with the M2A1. 50 caliber Machine gun. Meanwhile, Charlie company 2-504 PIR is over on range 66E (highlighted in blue on the left side of the picture). They are using the range as a known-distance range, and have personnel in the pits operating the manual target lifters while they are zeroing the M150 RCO at 100 yards. Distance X on the M33 ball ammunition being fired from range 44 is 6500 meters. This means that soldiers on range 66E are in jeopardy of being hit by projectiles from range 44. This is why it is essential for units to only conduct training they have briefed to range operations. While you may not see it right away, there

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How To Zero The Laser Boresight To A Weapon

We're going to do a talk through on how to zero the laser boresight to a weapon. If you have any questions on what this piece of kit is, and why it is important, check our TTP post from before. The Laser Boresight can be used with regular 5.56mm, 7.62mm, and .50 caliber weapons, sniper weapons are excluded due to the nature of the rifling of their barrels. This system is unique compared to bullet-type lasers, in that it is zeroed to the individual weapon's barrel. This means that you get closer to the true line of bore for that weapon. To zero it, you will first select and screw in the appropriate mandrel by hand. Do not tool tighten the mandrel, as it will crack the nut loose from its polymer case, and then you have an LBS paperweight. You will then place it in the barrel of the weapon until the mandrel is snug against the crown of the barrel. Then you will ensure the weapon itself is stable. A rock-solid bench-rest type of position is preferred for the weapon, so that the soldier need not hold it at this point. Once that is complete, you will begin

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