“As if more adversity were needed in a situation that was already an against-all-odds struggle to protect the body of a fallen comrade while also trying to stay alive, against the combined opposition of an assault from foreign fighters in the stairwell and a constant stream of grenades being tossed onto the roof near him — which prevented his crossing the mere feet separating him from Morley’s load carrying vest, which was in the northwestern corner and held a walkie-talkie (“ICOM”), the last undamaged piece of communications equipment on the roof — as well as nonstop machine gun fire from the buildings on every side, now Moser’s M4 was threatening to fail him. In this time of greatest need, Moser’s training and experience kicked in. He remained calm, cleared his weapon, and, undeterred by the fact that now, due to a malfunction in his most precious piece of equipment, he had to charge the rifle’s firing handle after every single shot, resumed the battle.”
-Jeff Manuel, The Longest Morning
For Training Tuesday, we are discussing why it is important to develop unconscious competence with our weapons. The source of this discussion is the video linked below.
A turret Gunner is engaging a threat that is within hand grenade range in this video. His primary weapon cannot depress enough to engage this threat, and it jammed on him. Instead of going through immediate action again to get his gun up, or picking up his secondary weapon (the SAW in this case) this soldier didn’t know what to do. He tells his leader ‘hey man, my gun’s jammed,’ as if that will magically solve the problem.
At no point while engaging the threat, does the turret gunner use a sighting system… on any weapon. There is something to be said for suppressive fires, but when the enemy is that close, you need to be practicing good muzzle awareness and ensure you know your target. The turret gunner is practicing the ‘spray and pray’ school of thought when it comes to engaging this threat. He is lucky there is no friendly elements present, or he probably would have killed them with the random gun fire.
There were several instances with both the M4 and M249 that the turret gunner came close to hitting the barrel of his M2. That would have inflicted injury to himself, and put the most casualty-producing weapon out of operation until the barrel was changed.
I know it is easy to say from this perspective what this turret gunner should or should not be doing. But we should all be using this as a learning opportunity to appreciate how much goes into developing unconscious competence.
Like football players watching film, we can learn from this individual’s mistakes, so that our Paratroopers will understand the need for developing unconscious competence.
Our hero of the day is Eric Moser. Eric received the Distinguished Service Cross for actions taken in Samarra, Iraq in 2007. Here is his story: