Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
The discordant chatter of M4 rifles filled the unseasonably warm morning Oct. 5 as Soldiers from 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment zeroed and qualified on their weapons under the stern gaze of their noncommissioned officers and officers.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Soldiers are back to training the basics of small arms marksmanship following the brigade’s redeployment from Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom earlier this summer.
Mastery of the M4 rifle is considered an essential part of the individual skills every Soldier needs to know to function as part of his fire team, squad, platoon and company, said Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Betances, operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge, 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg.
“It’s a perishable skill, shooting,” Betances said. “It’s imperative to get them confident with the M4 rifle.”
While much of the brigade’s equipment is still being readied for use following the deployment, the 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., leadership is focused on individual training.
“It’s kind of the crawl, walk, run concept,” Betances said. “Once we start getting our heavy equipment in from reset and prepare for heavy brigade combat team ‘Big Bullet’ Gunnery, the Soldiers are going to be better for it.
“It’s all about building confidence in that Soldier to do great and wonderful things (for the Army) without even thinking about it; it should be instinctive,” he said.
Soldiers are training on many things in addition to weapons.
“Whether its land navigation, call for fire, casualty evacuation procedures or just keeping the Soldiers informed, Soldiers are going to learn something every day,” Betances said.
Training is an integral part of how 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., does business, even when preparing for a garrison mission, he said.
“To prepare for contingency operations, there are a lot of moving parts, a lot of things happening at once,” said Betances. “The reset of our equipment, the refielding of our equipment, that’s ongoing with the teams, and in between that and during that, people still get out there and train Soldiers. That just shows that the mission doesn’t stop, regardless of what’s going on in garrison.”
A lot of credit can be given to the Soldiers for how they handle the demands of military life.
“It’s a testament to Soldiers, as far as accomplishing a lot of tasks that may seem overwhelming,” said Betances.
The enormity of the mission doesn’t daunt the Soldiers though, who are eager to get back to training.
“You actually get to do something,” said Spc. Seth Goodlett, gunner, Troop A, 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg. “It helps the new specialists; when you teach something it helps you retain it better than just taking notes in a classroom.”
Betances has full confidence that his Soldiers will be well trained when their equipment arrives.
“By the time they shoot gunnery, they’ll be ready for it,” he said.