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Marines learn multiple weapon systems during artillery machine gun course

22 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. Skyler Tooker 1st Marine Division

Students in the 11th Marine Regiment Artillery Training School are attending a two-week machine-gun course that gives non-commissioned officers the tools to teach their Marines about different weapon systems.

The course shows Marines how to correctly load, unload, and clear the weapons, how to perform a weapons function check, and how to apply the safeties when using machine guns.  The machine gun course is the first class this year, but the course is offered once every three months for NCOs and above.

“The course is one of many that the Artillery Training School offers in which students can retain the knowledge learned here and take it back and teach the Marines in their units,” Sgt. Dustin R. Zimmerman, 22, an instructor with the ATS from San Leandro, Calif.

The course covers various weapon systems, teaching the Marines how to operate all of them correctly.

“The different weapons we cover during the course are the Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher, M-2 .50-caliber machine gun, M-240G, M-249 squad automatic weapon, AT-4 and grenades,” said Cpl. Wesley J. Brown, 20, an artilleryman with Battery I, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, from Lawton, Okla. “The (instructors) taught good knowledge on machine guns, and also taught techniques for instructing others.”

After the course, the Marines who graduate are certified to instruct their Marines on the proper machine gun techniques.

“We teach them all about the different machine guns, but the main part of the class is teaching them how to instruct their Marines,” said Zimmerman. “We give them all the tools necessary to graduate here and go teach their junior Marines.”

The class breaks down how to begin a period of instruction, transitions in the middle of the class, and finishes with a recap following the learning objectives established by the instructor.

The ATS instructors give the students live-fire training on the various weapons systems after the classroom portion of the course is complete.

“They let us get hands-on training so we can understand the weapons systems a little better,” said Cpl. Anthony W. Rodriquez, 20, an artilleryman with Battery I from Navato, Calif. “The course is great. It gives Marines all the knowledge and confidence they need to go back to their units to pass it on. I would recommend this class to all Marines.”

1st Marine Division