SITREP: September 2002

By Dan Shea

Training is on my mind again today. I was at another military show, walking around and talking with both suppliers and users of military small arms, and I was struck by how brilliant many of the training systems were. There has been a veritable revolution in this field. There are live fire computer simulators that utilize special “Safe” ammunition and lightly modified weapons, 3D goggles that allow role playing, and many very well thought out systems that allow for simulating combat.

I have occasionally heard someone in authority say that they didn’t want their soldiers, or their police officers, training too much with firearms, as it might make them more prone to fire their weapons as opposed to using other options.

I couldn’t disagree more. The military and police have different missions, thus, different requirements in training their personnel. Armies are used to kill people and break things at the behest of their community’s demands, law enforcement is used to keep the citizens protected. Losing sight of this, blurring the lines between them, is more of a danger to the accomplishment of a mission than any potential training experience. Each day we see more of the militarization of law enforcement, and the blunting of the military with “Peace-keeping” missions. Many of SAR’s readers, myself included, have aided in making the tools of one available to the other. This is not a “Bad” thing, it is simply something to be understood in context.

I believe in the above stated environments, it is extremely important to present to the individuals in these occupations an opportunity to train themselves to the fine points of their missions. This means to help them make the right decisions according to the doctrine that applies. Role playing, Miles, FATS, Simunitions, etc, all have systems that can be fine tuned to the training to enhance the goals of the authorities who have to clarify the missions.

Simply put, you fight the way you train. If you are in a situation that requires great restraint, understanding of citizen’s rights, varying degrees of the application of non lethal and finally lethal force, this is much different from needing small unit action that is designed to be swift and deadly. These modern training systems can truly help in clarifying responses.

But now for a note of caution- I believe that these training systems can never fully replace live firing of the weapons used. These systems can augment the training, and increase the effectiveness of the force involved. They can help clarify missions. They can even help marksmanship. However, there has to be real trigger time, on real guns, with real bullets, at realistic ranges, for the training to be complete.

SAR is focused on this fact. We believe and advocate range time for everyone in the theater. Whether it be the truck drivers, clerks, cooks, or the legal corps, every single military person should be at the range once a month if not more, live firing. You do not know when you will be called upon to need the skills, to be familiar with your weapons. The United States Marines have a saying; “Every Marine a Rifleman”, which is a creed that should run through all of our services regardless of the primary MOS. Those who are in combat arms should have live fire training twice a week, without fail, and should have availability of range time on request. We should be encouraging marksmanship programs. Combining this type of regimen with the new training systems would keep our armed forces in top shape when they are deployed, and would save the lives of many if a full tilt fight was brewing. Don’t ever forget that everyone in a military uniform may be called on for the basic job- rifleman. Every police officer may have to use that gun in the course of duty, and should be proficient with a firearm to the point of being “natural” with their weapon.

If we don’t advocate real training and support it with the newer training systems, we lose the edge. That means we lose people, and that is unacceptable due to “Budget constraints” or “Social experiments”.

Let’s all support more range time and ammo allotments

- Dan

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V5N12 (September 2002)
and was posted online on January 3, 2014


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