Marines: Hey Lets Train with Our Actual Weapons!

Marines Firearms TrainingThe US Marine Corps has decided to train as it fights.  At weapon qualifications, Marines will be allowed to use the weapons and approved optics they carry into battle.

“The intent is to ensure Marines train with the weapon system with which they will fight, ” wrote Lt. Gen. Richard Mills in an administrative message.

Not being a Marine, I didn’t realize this, but it seems that firearms qualification scores are part of how promotions are calculated.  Therefore, in an effort to ensure “fairness” in the promotional process, it appears the Marines have not allowed their personnel to qualify with what they carry.

For example, the free-floated barrel on the Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) could provide an accuracy advantage to the shooter as compared to a Marine shooting a standard M16 or M4, and therefore could have been removed from qualifications to promote the concept of fairness.

While I can appreciate the need for a level field when it comes to promotions, wasting valuable training time by forcing troops to shoot weapon systems unlike the ones that they actually use on missions seems to be a really bad idea.  As a law enforcement trainer, I can attest to the fact that people fall to the level of their training when the poo hits the giant air mover.

It seems to me that range time really should be spent with an emphasis on keeping Marines alive by training them to the best of their ability with the equipment they will have.  I guess I hate funerals more than I like overly-complicated, bureaucratic promotional processes.  Maybe I just don’t think it is “fair” to send men into battle with substandard training.

But, I’m not a Marine.  Your mileage, and opinions, may vary. Feel free to sound off below. I don’t claim to know much about the topic, but from what I am reading, I don’t much like it.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

4 replies on “Marines: Hey Lets Train with Our Actual Weapons!”

One of our mottos is “every Marine is a rifleman.” I suppose now we should change that to “every Marine is a rifleman except for those who are automatic riflemen.”

But this is not really all that unprecedented. In the old days, air crew qualified on the .38 revolver while ground officers qualified with the .45 M1911.

I don’t think it’s a bad policy, but it does change the way we look at things. I’m still trying to get used to having optics for qualification, which I think is a bigger change. I can’t really find a good reason not to allow optics since they are issued to everyone now, but it still seems strange to an old timer like me to forego using iron sights at five hundred yards and still call it marksmanship.

As a former range coach and Rifle Expert, 5th award at the time they issued A4’s and ACOGs to my unit, I thought it was horribly stupid that nobody was gonna get any training with their issued optics until we got into theater. I could understand having the qualifier be done with open sights, but why not ditch the haze-ex we call “Field Fire” and do a regular range day on Friday at 500m with the ACOG on? But they didn’t do that. They changed the scoring back to the way it was before I joined, so now I have no idea what a good score is, because the score system that was used the entire time I was a Marine was abandoned for one that was already obsolete. Stupidity like that is why I got out.

Oh come on. The number and method of accumulating points is such a petty change.

I agree that using the ACOG is the right thing to do, it just feels weird.

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