We are continuing our discussion on Control. Specifically, we will be addressing how to handle malfunctions, which is a particular part of the shot process that was not addressed under the fundamentals. Our Reference for this discussion is TC 3-22.9 Change 1, dated January 2017.

A malfunction is anything that occurs to interrupt the cycle of function of the weapon. The TC describes it as: “The Soldier controls which actions must be taken to ensure the [threat] is defeated as quickly as possible based on secondary weapon availability and capability, and the level of threat presented by the range of the [threat] and its capability.”

This means that the Paratrooper needs to determine how to most effectively neutralize the threat based on their assessment. They do this in one of three ways: Their secondary weapon to can eliminate the threat, their secondary weapon cannot eliminate the threat, or they have no secondary weapon to transition too. We will discuss each of these separately.

If the Paratrooper has a secondary weapon, and they believe they can neutralize the threat with it, they will transition to that weapon. Secondary weapons are usually a pistol for an M240 Gunner or the M4 Carbine for a Grenadier. Paratroopers must practice this skill to be proficient at transitions.

If the Paratrooper has a secondary weapon but does not believe they can neutralize the threat with it, then they must move to cover and perform remedial actions with their weapon. The same is done when the Paratrooper does not have a secondary weapon to utilize.
From a practical, combat perspective, malfunctions are recognized by their symptoms. Although some symptoms do not always identify a single point of failure, they provide the best indication on which corrective action to apply.

There are two general types of corrective actions: Immediate and remedial action. Immediate action is simple, rapid actions or motions taken by the Paratrooper to correct the disruption in the cycle of function of the weapon. Immediate action is taken when a malfunction occurs such that the trigger is squeezed and the hammer falls with an audible “click.”

Remedial action is a skilled technique that must be applied to a particular problem or issue with the weapon that will not be corrected by taking immediate action. Remedial action is taken when the cycle of function is interrupted where the trigger is squeezed and either has little resistance during the squeeze (“mush”) or the trigger cannot be squeezed.

Paratroopers need to understand that there is no single corrective action that will resolve every malfunction. Paratroopers need to pay attention to how the weapon is operating through the cycles of function to ensure they identify how to correct the malfunction properly. There are specific symptoms (e.g. a mushy trigger) that can allow them to identify the problem efficiently and rapidly.

So to sum up, we’ve discussed Malfunctions, we’ve discussed what immediate and remedial actions are, and we’ve discussed what the Paratrooper’s mindset should be. We will continue our discussion on malfunctions as we address when in the cycle of function immediate action will correct the malfunction, and the rules of correcting a malfunction.

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