[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                          July 24, 2009

Engineer Soldiers learn close-quarters combat techniques

By Spc. Brian Johnson, The Real McCoy Contributor

FORT McCOY, Wis. ó On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, if a Solder has to engage their foe, that enemy may only be a matter of feet away from them.

Photo: Soldiers from the 1434th Engineer Company train on close-quarters combat techniques during their mobilization training at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Spc. Brian Johnson)
Soldiers from the 1434th Engineer Company train on close-quarters combat techniques during their mobilization training at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Spc. Brian Johnson)

In an instant, that Soldier may be required to make a decision over whether or not the target that they are trying to engage is friendly or an enemy. Safety and well-thought-out decisions become vital.

On the training ranges at Fort McCoy, the 1434th Engineer Company learned the importance of close-quarters combat techniques, and well-thought-out decisions.

The Grayling, Mich.-based National Guard unit was activated June 11 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They began training at their mobilization station, Fort McCoy, Wis., June 14.

In close-quarters combat, Soldiers are required to engage targets with their M-16 rifle from distances of 20 meters to 10 meters, kneeling, walking, and turning from an angle. With another Soldier less than five feet away, safety becomes critical.

If Soldiers bring their weapons up too early when they are moving, they run the risk of pointing their weapon at that friendly Soldier. When the Soldier does bring a weapon up to shoot, the target in front of them may be an innocent person or an enemy. When that determination is made, a Soldier is required to engage the target before it disappears if it is an enemy.

Unit 1st Sgt. Timothy Lamphere said of the range and training, "Close-quarters combat is an unusual mission for a vertical engineer company like the 1434th. With a majority of the unitís construction in or near urban areas, close-quarters marksmanship is an essential skill. These skills are important not only for live protection skills, but to avoid unnecessary fratricide/collateral damage. The Soldiers of the 1434th adapted well to this new training and performed with a high level of proficiency. This type of training that is provided is essential and will no doubt benefit the unit as it prepares for its rotation to Iraq."

Staff Sgt. Ray Tompkins from Hartland, Mich., said that the close-quarters combat range was well done.

"There were a lot of rehearsals that were done to help ensure safety before live rounds were issued," Tompkins said. "The techniques that were taught were well instructed and insightful. I would have liked to have seen even more realism in the training than what was offered on the range."

Spc. Carl Sammons of Detroit said of the close-quarters combat range, "It was a decent range. The techniques that were taught were very good. It was a definite learning experience for me. I would have liked to spend even more time learning additional techniques beyond what was being taught."

The 1434th will continue training at Fort McCoy until late summer before unit members go to their duty station in Iraq.

(Johnson is the 1434th Engineer Company Public Affairs Representative.)


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