Fort McCoy News March 28, 2014

32nd IBCT Soldiers train in Master Gunner Course

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

More than 30 National Guard Soldiers from throughout Wisconsin trained at Fort McCoy in the Master Gunner Course over a three-week period in March.

Photo 1 for Master Gunner article
Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team use Fort McCoy Range 31 to practice marksmanship shooting for the Master Gunner Course.

The Soldiers, from the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) headquartered at Camp Douglas, trained in small arms and heavy weapons proficiency over a 17-day course and gained instructional expertise.

"About half of the Soldiers participating in the training were combat arms and the other half were Soldiers from support backgrounds," said Maj. Aaron Freund, 32nd IBCT officer in charge (OIC) of the course.

"This is a good training program that requires much work and effort to complete, but, in the end, pays big dividends for us."

Each student trains on a number of weapons systems to include the M-4 rifle, M-9 pistol, M-320 grenade launcher, M249, M240B, MK19 and M2A1 machine guns and associated night-vision equipment.

The night-vision training included use of thermal-imaging devices.

Photo 2 for Master Gunner article
A Soldier concentrates on the target.

"The program is unique in how it helps a Soldier's ability to be a better shooter and, more importantly, a better trainer," Freund said.

"If they meet all the required marksmanship and training levels, they return to their units to serve as master gunners able to increase unit proficiency in marksmanship and execution of weapons-related tasks."

The 32nd IBCT has been conducting master gunner courses on an annual basis on post since 2007. The last course at Fort McCoy was in September 2013.

"This class is the first one we've completed in the winter," Freund said.

"Despite some tough conditions on some of the training days, our students have done quite well."

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More than 30 Soldiers participated in the Master Gunner Course, which includes shooting a myriad of small arms weapons systems. With more than 3,400 Soldiers, the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team is the largest unit in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Capt. Matthew Myers, assistant course OIC, said every time they hold the course at Fort McCoy, it always is done with great support from the training range management and support team.

"They accommodate us all very well when we are here," Myers said.

With more than 3,400 Soldiers and units based in 36 Wisconsin communities, the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team is the largest unit in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, according to the unit's website.

The 32nd IBCT resembles "a small-scale combat division, with infantry, cavalry, field artillery, and special troops units for intelligence, signal, military police, and combat engineers."