The Army is making marksmanship training harder to prepare soldiers for the two-way firing range


VIDEO: The new Army rifle qualification and training strategy

The Army is working to improve its small arms training to better simulate combat by having soldiers engage several targets at once, grab magazines from their pack to reload, and fix weapons malfunctions while on the range, the service recently announced.

"It's exactly what we would do in a combat environment, and I think it's just going to build a much better shooter," Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Fortenberry, the senior enlisted leader at the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, tasked with overseeing the Army's efforts to update marksmanship training for the first time in decades.

Starting in October, the Army will begin implementing the new marksmanship training, said Benjamin Garrett, a spokesman for the Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning. By October 2021, all active-duty, National Guard, and reserve soldiers will be required to pass the tougher standards.

Eventually, all soldiers will have to pass the tougher standards for pistol, rifle, and automatic rifle drills, which include having soldiers decide the order in which they shoot at multiple targets, the Army news release says.

"Four targets at a time will present themselves in this new course of fire," Fortenberry said in the news release. "There is a quad series that comes up. How do I engage that?"

Requiring soldiers to grab magazines from their kit, make decisions about which target shoot first, and the other changes to marksmanship training represent a "long, long overdue improvement" in how the Army teaches soldiers how to shoot, said retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales.

"Give the job to a sergeant major [Fortenberry] and he'll figure out how to make it more realistic," said Scales, the senior adviser to the Defense Department's Close Combat Lethality Task Force.

The Army's decision to require soldiers to pass tougher marksmanship standards is also welcome news to retired Army Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mellinger, who served as the senior enlisted leader in Iraq from August 2004 to May 2007.

"It's the kind of training that, frankly, very few units in the Army conduct themselves," Mellinger told Task & Purpose on Monday.

While some Army units require soldiers to practice against moving targets or qualify on the firing range at night, the vast majority do not, Mellinger said.

It's important for soldiers to learn how to quickly engage closer targets – which pose the greatest danger – before slowing down to hit targets farther away, he said.

Mellinger also applauded the Army's plans to force soldiers to get their weapons working if they encounter malfunctions while on the firing range. Even though soldiers are taught how to fix stoppages, they are allowed to call "alibi" if they unable to shoot for whatever reason.

"If your weapon fails to fire and there's a bad guy aiming at you, do you get to throw up the flag and say: Whoa, wait a minute; wait a minute; alibi!" he said. "No. If that target is up for three seconds and you have a stoppage of some sort and you don't take appropriate action to hit the target, it's a miss."

"In a couple units that I have served in, that's how I conducted ranges because you didn't get a second chance when it's a two-way range," he continued.

Seven of the twelve Soldiers participating in the Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Level 2 course at Fort Indiantown Gap practice folding the flag April 25. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zane Craig)

Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.

Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.

Read More Show Less

For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.

"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.

In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.

"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."

Read More Show Less
Defense Secretary Mark Esper (Associated Press photo)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.

"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."

Read More Show Less

Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.

Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.

"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'

Read More Show Less

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.

Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.

Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.

Read More Show Less