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Massachusetts Guard hosts senior gunner course

By Sgt. 1st Class Laura Berry | Massachusetts National Guard | Dec. 3, 2019

JOINT BASE CAPE COD, Mass. – Senior gunner course students trained to assist commanders at all echelons in planning, executing and evaluating crew direct fire gunnery at the 101st Regional Training Institute Nov. 13-27.

A mobile training team from the Warrior Training Center at Ft. Benning, Ga., conducted the course. Topics covered included Mounted Machine Gun Vehicle Crew Evaluator certification; MMG gunnery skills testing on M240B, M2A1 and MK19 crew-served weapons, ammunition identification, and vehicle identification; the Direct Fire Engagement Process; gunnery prerequisites, range operations and a 12-month unit training plan.

The course targeted students that were accomplished noncommissioned officers to be MMG gunnery subject matter experts for their units, comparable in duties to Abrams and Bradley Master Gunners.

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Talarico, an instructor, said students were taught how to assist the commanders in the planning process and how to get to a successful objective task assessment methodology.

The trained senior gunners will go back to their units and share their expertise with senior leadership to come up with the best training plan possible, often years ahead of the actual training event. Being introduced to contacts and procedures makes the planning process run more smoothly.

“We are building a network for the senior gunners,” said Talarico.

The Training Support Center (TSC) at Camp Edwards, Joint Base Cape Cod, walked the students through a few training options to incorporate into their training plans.

Sgt. Nicholas Simoes, who works for the TSC, demonstrated the Unstabilized Gunnery Trainer-Individual (UGT-I) and the Virtual Convoy Operations Trainer (VCOT).

The UGT-I simulates a combat vehicle’s gunner station, using a virtual-reality-based turret, and incorporates proper loading and unloading procedures.

The VCOT integrates MMG, Maneuver/Convoy, Section/Platoon and Crew Gunnery, with multiple training seats for combat vehicle drivers, truck commanders and gunners. There is also a screen with printable scoresheets the units can take for their records.

The students walked next door to check out the Virtual Battle Space (VBS) system, which offers realistic battlefield simulations and the ability to operate land, sea, and air vehicles.

Simoes recommended using the VBS system if the unit uses the CREW system, as the VCOT does not incorporate that type of training.

To request training opportunities at the TSC, senior gunners must ask the unit’s training NCO to put a request into Range Facility Management Support System.

“We have everything and we are always willing to help,” said Simoes.