Old School: Army Recruits Will Again Test On Iron Sights During Basic Training

Military Tech

For the first time in three years, Army recruits will have to pass a marksmanship test  during basic training using only the backup iron sights for the M16 rifles and M4 carbines, officials said.


“The test consists of a 40-round engagement at multiple targets at ranges from 50 meters to 300 meters – sometimes one target at a time; sometimes multiple targets at a time – in multiple positions: kneeling, prone supported, and prone unsupported,” Wayne Marken, of the Army’s Leader Training Brigade, told Task & Purpose.

Army recruits used only iron sights during basic training until 2015,  when Army switched to the close combat optic which allows soldiers to to aim with the benefit of a built-in red dot centered on a target when they look through the scope, officials told Task & Purpose.

“In 2015, we stopped doing the rifle marksmanship test itself for the iron sights and only did it for the CCO – they did all training up until then but they only tested on the CCO,” said Marken, director of quality assurance for the brigade. “Now, they will test on both the CCO and the iron sights.”

Although the Army offers a range of optics for rifles and carbines, including thermal sights, soldiers will have to rely on their iron sites if their battery dies or if the enemy can jam the close combat optic in an increasingly crowded electronic warfare environment, said Col. Fernando Guadalupe Jr., commander of the Leader Training Brigade.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers often found themselves in close quarters fighters, which drove the Army to make training on the close combat optic a priority, Guadalupe said. Now the Army is training soldiers to fight in “technologically degraded environment[s]” where enemies can launch electronic warfare attacks, rendering high-tech gear useless, he said.

“We want to make sure that the soldier can quickly shift back to the mechanism that is a permanent part of that weapons system, the backup iron sights,” Guadalupe said.

The Army does not currently have any data to suggest that any soldiers have been unable to hit their targets in combat because their close combat optics failed and they were not trained enough on how to use their iron sights, he said.

Military.com first reported on May 18 that the Army was increasing training on iron sights as part of a wider effort to make soldiers better at marksmanship during basic training.

Starting in October, all Army recruits will fire 600 rounds during 92 hours on the range, compared with the 500 rounds that recruits currently fire during 83 hours of marksmanship instruction, said Thriso Hamilton, the brigade’s specialist for basic training.

The Army has also added a “battle, march, and shoot” drill at the end of The Forge, the 81-hour culminating event of basic training, Hamilton said. Soldiers march four miles without a rest at a pace of 17-to-18-minutes-per-mile before heading to the range, doing 25 pushups, and then firing off 40 rounds.

Each platoon is timed and soldiers earn or are deducted points based on their march times, how accurately they shoot, and if they have the correct equipment that is supposed to be in their rucksacks, he said.

Army recruits at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, have already gone through the “battle, march, and shoot,” and all Army bases that host basic training will include the event starting by October, Guadalupe said. Having the event at the end of the Forge will test soldier’s ability shoot accurately while weakened physically from relentless combat training over the past four days. It also instills in soldiers the need to ensure their weapons are in working order.

“That event at the end also makes it a key, essential part of training: ‘I’ve got to take care of my weapon and make sure I don’t damage it or I don’t change the sights on it, which I grouped and zeroed with, because at the end of it I have to travel certain distances and engage targets – and do it effectively – for me to complete The Forge,’” Guadalupe said.

WATCH NEXT:

Army photo / Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton.

GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.

Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.

Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.

Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.

But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.

Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."

Read More Show Less
(Lockheed Martin photo)

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."

"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.

William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Air Force/TSgt. Dana Flamer)

TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.

Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.

Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."

Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.

Read More Show Less