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Machine Gun Academy sets standards for all units' soldiers
Infantrymen with 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, change barrels on an M240 Bravo machine gun during a live-fire exercise on Fort Stewart on Jan. 20. The range was part of the battalions Machine Gun Academy training, which also consisted of classroom instruction. - photo by U.S. Army/Pvt. 1st Class Jordan Anderson

Machine gunners of 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted Machine Gun Academy Training on Fort Stewart throughout January.

“We have a lot of new soldiers in our battalion, so we’re trying to develop one (standard operating procedure) so we can take one gun team from Bravo Company and pair it up with a gun team from Charlie Company, if need be, and they’re on the same sheet of music,” said Sgt. 1st Class Darryl D. Lewis Jr., an infantryman and noncommissioned officer in charge of the range.

“Everybody likes to skin the cat 100 different ways, but if we have that one SOP for the gun teams, we can interchange whatever we need to at any time,” Lewis said.

Lewis said this battalion standard was a key component of the academy because it allowed more operational fluidity.

“We have a really new weapons squad, and this gives us the ability and the time to really hone in on our skills,” said Staff Sgt. Jesse Wallace, a squad leader with Company B, 1-30th Infantry, 2nd IBCT. “Now, we’re able to make SOPs battalion-wide so all the gun teams are operating the same way.”

Wallace added that the time set aside specifically for all the gun teams of the battalion was of great benefit.

“The training improves the effectiveness of the battalion because we have more cohesiveness,” Lewis said.

The training consisted of classroom instruction as well as a range to familiarize crew served weapons operators with the real-world effects of their munitions against different kinds of cover and to ensure operator proficiency. The effects of machine-gun fire on cover, such as sandbags, cinder blocks and bricks, is crucial knowledge for gun teams.

Lewis went on to say the cohesion developed at the training not only solidified their team work, but also ensured readiness and made each team into a battalion asset that could be used in diverse ways because of the unified training.

“This training has been really effective,” Wallace said. “My favorite part of this training is getting my guys some trigger time, being able to put rounds down range and have them work on their marksmanship, their accuracy and get comfortable behind the machine gun.”

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