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“But that’s the only chance we get to shoot? Why are you taking it from us?”: Humility is the New Expertise

Note:

This reflects the views of the writer and he encourages readers to go through the article, read the whole thing, and think of it from the writer’s perspective, rather than their own point of view. However he is fully prepared to defend his statements against the masses of naysayers as seen below:

In 2017, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act made significant changes in the income tax structure of the United States. Economists and Accountants all over the internet predicted the end of the world. However, it turns out when they read the act, rather than skimming the executive summary, the changes it made were not so sweeping for the individual consumer. Parrish (2018) contended that ‘Humility is the new demonstration of expertise’ and said that the economists who slipped into speculation were having to ‘eat their words.’

Similarly, we have people already predicting
the end of the world with a new army doctrine that was recently published. As of the 18th of June, the United States Army updated Training Circular 3-20.0, also known as the Integrated Weapons Training Strategy. This manual gives the Army a unified common training strategy that will be refined and fleshed out for each weapon system and level of training in later publications. However, one of the significant changes it brings up for individual weapons qualifications is listed below:

The first thing that people have said when seeing this is: “Why are they taking away our ammunition?” “This hurts Reserves/Guard Soldiers!” “Did anyone from the Guard/Reserves have input to this?” and so forth. They say these things while completely missing the point of this section of the manual. They are focusing on the trees without looking at the forest.

TC 3-20.0 does not state that soldiers cannot shoot courses of fire before the actual qualification. If you follow the training strategy as outlined, it will give soldiers more of a chance to learn the shot process, and fix their issues before they get to the firing line. Three tables build upon one another (tables I-III) that will give soldiers repetitions with their weapons before going to the range, which is a significant shift. Before the Integrated Weapons Training Strategy, it was a haphazard approach to going to the range. Soldiers did not build any skill in the shot process consistently either from unit to unit or from range density to range density, which leads me to the next point.

Everyone focused on “why are they taking away our bullets? This is the only chance we get to shoot!” need to re-frame that and see what this does for you. You get the integration of an actual PMI, use of the preliminary live fire simulations to help identify issues before the range, and incorporation of dry-fire, all of which has metrics that can be captured to learn from and improve your training and shot process. This makes the integrated weapons training strategy a better concept than going to the range and wasting time and ammunition all day trying to get someone qualified “expert.”

I know that people are doubtful about anything that comes from a bureaucracy as vast as the Army. However, despite the bureaucracy, the Army is getting things right. The Integrated Weapons Training Strategy is going to change how you train your units by aligning them and giving an actual training plan for developing weapons mastery, rather than just training to the qualification.  

What this portion of the manual is attempting to do is to raise the standard for weapons qualification. We have gotten a new Army Combat Fitness Test, which you get one attempt at based merely on you are not going to perform better on the second attempt on the same day for a fitness test. Weapons qualifications are changing as well. However, it is to reflect a more accurate representation of Soldier abilities. Giving each soldier one attempt to qualify means that they are going to have to focus on developing the shot process before the event.

More importantly, this is attempting to address the fact that we have lied to ourselves about weapons training for too long. Commanders are going to have to accept that there is a bell curve to qualifications and that not everyone is an ‘expert.’ Averages for units will go down, but it will be a more realistic assessment of the units’ abilities and will be similar to those of the aforementioned PT scores. NCO’s are going to have to own their portion of learning the intricacies of teaching and training their soldiers through this new method. Moreover, through a little bit of ‘humility’ in garrison, units will achieve expertise that they did not have before.

References:

Headquarters, Department of the Army. (2019). TC
3-20.0 Integrated Weapons Training Strategy.
Washington D.C.:
Headquarters, Department of the Army.

Parrish, S. (2018). Risk Management for Business Owners: How to Deal with the Uncertainties of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Journal of Financial Service Professionals, 72(4), 30-34.

Raymond Miller
Raymond Miller is the former Small Arms Master Gunner of the 82nd Airborne Division. He is leveraging his operational experience training soldiers in Weapons Mastery to address Human Systems Integration issues for the United States Army.

Comments

This post currently has 2 responses

  • STRAC is not the limiting document that people believe it is. It sets authorizations, but the weapon proponent establishes the ammunition requirements. In the case of individual weapons, the document in question is TC 3-20.40, Individual Weapons Training and Qualification. Where differences occur (18 rounds to group & zero vs 30 rounds to group and zero), the ammunition will be provided. Where commanders require further live fire training, the round counts need to be documented in detail and used to justify the ammunition draw. It all comes down to motivated and timely ammunition forecasting, ordering, TAMIS knowledge and avoiding self-imposed limitations. Finally, any STRAC deviation from the forthcoming .40 will soon be corrected by an updated STRAC.

  • It is not a guarantee scores will go down. Provided the Units ACTUALLY conduct the training leading to the qualification they will see scores remaining the same or improvements. The Course of Fire was designed to harshly punish those who failed to conduct the training and reward those who did.
    Currently basic training privates are averaging 33.75 on the New Course of fire following the training strategy. If a brand new private can do it, Ol Sarge can too. Unless a brand new private is a better shooter than the NCO’s

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