As part of our previous discussion on control, I’d like to bring up one of the primary points Paratroopers of every MOS need to be aware of; that of their mindset when handling a weapon. If you were to believe what you see in the news, you might think a weapon can go off without any interaction by an individual.
Paratroopers need to understand that a weapon off safe will not discharge unless some physical force sets off the trigger. A weapon can be left loaded for years, off safe, with a round in the chamber, and it will not discharge. Once the human variable enters into the equation, then the weapon has the potential to go off, depending upon what that person does with it as they handle it. That is why we say that the Paratrooper is the primary safety for their weapon, not the mechanical safety mechanism.
Weapons are a tool, and like any tool, if they are not treated with a healthy respect and awareness of what it can do, it can cause injury or death. The only way respect for the weapon is developed, is by actually handling and becoming familiar with them by reading more about their capabilities and employment, and NCO’s ensuring that training is conducted on a regular basis.
Every Paratrooper realize that they are a part of the Army. The Army is not a ‘safe space.’ The Army is a place where the people tasked to fight and win the nation’s wars are forged.
In order to do that in today’s Unified Land Operations environment, Paratroopers need to realize that any MOS can be called upon to do the traditional Infantry mission of ‘closing with and destroying the enemy by means of maneuver and fire.’ Our support, and service support brethren need to have more than an academic understanding of what a weapon’s capabilities are and how to handle them. By that, I mean they need to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the board questions that are always asked about weapons.
This means means that all Paratroopers need to crack the cover on some manuals. Back when they came in hard copy form, it was hard to get the books, but everyone read them. Now they are available on digital media, but few take the time to actually read them.
All soldiers should read the new TC 3.22-9 so as to develop a solid foundation for their shot process. All NCO’s should read that, and at a minimum read TC 3-20.0 (Integrated Weapons Training Strategy) to give them a better idea of how to plan training for their units. NCO’s then need to have their Paratroopers pull our their weapons and dry-fire, dry-fire, dry-fire.
Integration of these things will bring about safe weapons handling habits, increase individual Paratroopers level of control and awareness with their weapon, and make our organization a more lethal fighting force overall.