I'm the new WSL for my Plt, and I'm looking for some advice on well, pretty much everything.

We've never really had a Weapons Squad before- when I came to the unit we were Mechanized and since then we've transitioned for Strykers where we never really had the manpower to staff one. While manpower is still an issue, they're letting me standup a dedicated Squad (yay!) but we lack pretty much all SME's on how to be a WSL (FML) or run a MGT. 

I've been in the Infantry for 10 years now, but never in a unit with a dedicated Weapons Squad. I was in a Heavy Weapons Company (D Co) when I was active duty, so I have a lot of experience with machine guns, but there's a lot I don't know about dismounted M240 employment. So more specifically I'm looking for advice on:

- Drills. I know I need to run my guys on how fast they can get the gun up from bipod to tripod,  Dead Gunner, and barrel changes... anything else I'm missing?

- Equipment. Luckily we have M240L's w/ the new fancy pants lightweight tripods and PEQ15's, unfortunately some of the M145 MGO's are cloudy and might be in need of replacement. GTF425 suggested in another thread as a WSL to get an LRF, so I'm planning on picking up a Vortex Ranger 1800 soon. Does anyone make premade Range Cards I can tear out of a book?  Anything else I / we need?

- TTP's. Right now my PSG (who comes from 2/75 and "knows his shit" is understatement of the year) prefers the senior guy as the gunner and less experienced as the AG, if anyone has arguments for or against I'd love to hear it. Same with barrel changes, I've always had the gunner press the barrel released button so the AG can just rotate it out and throw the next one in. Also we've been carrying the "ready ammo" in the barrel bag, so when the AG throws it down, he can open it up and link up with the starter belt. We've been keeping 200-300 rounds in there. How in the hell do you activate the PEQ15 when it's on the non dominant side so the sling doesn't get in the way?  

Any info and advice on how you've run things (either as a WSL or on a Gun Team) would be appreciated, thanks!

PRAISE THE FALLEN

SSG Kevin Roberts KIA 7-May-08         SPC Peter Courcy KIA 10-Feb-09

1Lt Nick Dewhirst KIA 20-July-08          PFC Jason Watson KIA 10-Feb-09

CPL Charles Gaffney KIA 24-Dec-08

 

Joined: 2/21/04          Location: Seattle,  WA

Original Post
Linz posted:

 

...and seven times never toss a hot barrel into that bag.

Our barrel bags have two sections, both being nomex insulated- one section for barrels, the other for ammo. We fancy n' shit x 7. 

PRAISE THE FALLEN

SSG Kevin Roberts KIA 7-May-08         SPC Peter Courcy KIA 10-Feb-09

1Lt Nick Dewhirst KIA 20-July-08          PFC Jason Watson KIA 10-Feb-09

CPL Charles Gaffney KIA 24-Dec-08

 

Joined: 2/21/04          Location: Seattle,  WA

Ah

kaltesherz posted:
Linz posted:

 

...and seven times never toss a hot barrel into that bag.

Our barrel bags have two sections, both being nomex insulated- one section for barrels, the other for ammo. We fancy n' shit x 7. 

Cool.

Mine were single compartment with pouches on the inside.  Seen a hot barrel tossed into one to cuddle with some blank on a hasty displace.

Full disclosure here - I am not, nor have I ever been a WSL (save for a few patrols at Ranger School, which I'm not sure count for much in the context of your question).  However, I do know what I needed/expected from my WSL and gun teams as a light PL.  I can offer insight from that perspective, which may have some value.  In no particular order:

-Be proficient in ammo forecasting based on timelines and rates of fire required for deliberate attacks (raid/Battle Drill 1/etc).  Your PL/PSG should be doing this, but experience tells me not to rely on anyone else to tell me what I need to know to succeed in MY lane.  You may need to offer advice or at a minimum you can confirm their math and show them you know your shit.

-Connected to the previous note, know the rates of fire and how to maintain them when supervising your gun teams.  I don't mean just, "Sustained is 100 RPM."  Know what that means for how many rounds per burst and - more importantly - how many seconds BETWEEN bursts.  Dudes will get hot on that trigger and shorten up their intervals.  That starts burning through ammo quick.  If you or the gun TL doesn't catch it and correct it, now you don't have enough ammo to suppress during your the remainder of actions on OBJ.

-Your gun teams need to not only know how the tripod works (T&E mech), but they need to develop REAL PROFICIENCY using it.  This is the same thing that we talk about on this board regarding qualification ranges with rifles twice a year versus real proficiency with one's M4.  Your teams will only get this through repeated, regular trips to the unknown distance range.  Free gun is for emergencies and amateurs.  Professionals run the T&E like a boss.  The M192 tripods are nice in that it's a streamlined mechanism compared to the old shit.  Day AND night (illum tape on the T&E can be your friend).

-Rather than carrying your ammo in the spare barrel bag, check out running it out of an assault pack.  You can MacGyver some shit to put in the pack to keep the belts organized, then flop that shit down next to the gun and unzip the top.  You'd be amazed how little you do anything with the spare barrel - unless you are doing a deliberate, planned SBF - and you'll need a ready source of ammo without having to unstrap the barrel bag off your ruck.  At least that was my experience in our specific AO.

-[May or may not be applicable in the Stryker/Mech world, but you asked for dismounted experience...]  Have your teams practice setting in their apex's for patrol base ops.  You, the PSG, or the PL will still be by to inspect and adjust but the less ya'll have to do the better.  Teams need to understand the implementation of FPLs and PDFs in the defense, how they incorporate into the larger defensive plan, and how/when to execute.  Range cards are the tangible output from emplacing your guns in their apex, but I've met many a bro who can bang out a range card without much real understanding of what/why they're drawing.  True understanding is the key to your gun teams being effective.

-Always remember that your two guns are the most casualty producing weapons organic to our dismounted Infantry.  If your PL is worth a damn, he will recognize that and employ them appropriately.  If he doesn't, you'll need to be the advocate for your asset; tell him what your boys can do and how they can help him accomplish the PLT obj.

-This is an obvious one, but bears mention anyway: practice your shift & lift commo with the assault element.  Work through all your various PACE signals in as many different environments as you can, day and night.  Time your teams (and work to get faster) between receipt of the signal to confirming they have executed.  The goal should be to never have the assault element waiting on the SBF.

-Our TTP was to have the guns run the PAS-13s at night when stationary.  If that is something that sounds like a good idea to you guys, ensure you train on them.  As has been stated elsewhere on LF, thermal is great for target detection but often lacks in PID.  Practice will help mitigate this shortcoming.

-Identify and address the leadership challenges in front of you when running your teams split up.  They almost invariably will be, except in a planned/deliberate SBF.

-Check out myself and Mick's comments in the SDM/gun team thread.  Good TTPs in there.

-Some recommended reading for you to bone up.  You said you lack SMEs - these will be a good start to becoming one:  FM 3-21.8 Appendix A, FM 3-22.68, also lots of the USMC machine gunnery manuals are excellent (I think they do machine gun theory better than us Army dudes do), and finally the US Army Infantry Board Weapons Test Methodology Vol. III.  This last one is a old, lost to history document but it has some fucking solid info (particularly appendices A, B, and G) .  It's long and dry, but there is Truth to be found in it.  Science.

--Dave

 

"Do not touch anything unnecessarily. Beware of pretty girls in dance halls and parks who may be spies, as well as bicycles, revolvers, uniforms, arms, dead horses, and men lying on roads -- they are not there accidentally."

Thanks for the feedback DRH (even if you're a dirty stinkin' O)

-Be proficient in ammo forecasting based on timelines and rates of fire required for deliberate attacks (raid/Battle Drill 1/etc)

Yep, I'm familiar with "machine gun math" aka estimating how much ammo is needed for the objective and possible follow on missions. Luckily we have Strykers to carry speedballs of extra ammo, so we don't have to hump obscene amounts of 7.62 with us like if we were in a straight up light unit. We rarely get enough ammo for our training as it is, so that also helps us with your next point 

-Connected to the previous note, know the rates of fire and how to maintain them when supervising your gun teams.

We train on rates of fire pretty often and examples of our fire commands would be "RAPID 2" (Gun 1 fires 7-9 round burst, then Gun 2 counts 2 seconds before also firing 7-9 round burst rinse and repeat) and "SUSTAINED 4" (Gun 1 fires 4-5 round burst, then Gun 2 counts 4 seconds before also firing 4-5 round burst rinse and repeat). 

-Your gun teams need to not only know how the tripod works (T&E mech), but they need to develop REAL PROFICIENCY using it.

This is something we really need to work on, and will be part of gun drills. We don't get a lot of ranges, and we get one 240 qual a year. And last year we only had enough ammo to qual two gunners per Plt. No shit. I shot more 7.62 at ALC than anyone in my Plt has shot in years. So yeah, we'll have to train on the T&E and tripod when we have down time. 

-Rather than carrying your ammo in the spare barrel bag, check out running it out of an assault pack.

Our current SOP is to run about 300 rounds in the barrel bag for immediate use, and the AG carries another 300-400 in his assault pack- and if it's an extra spicy objective I'll bring another 100-200 in my Yote. Of course this is in addition to the gunners starter belt, which is about 40-50 rounds. 

Have your teams practice setting in their apex's for patrol base ops.

Another thing we'll have to work on, but because of the Strykers we don't practice dismounted patrol bases much, still something we should train for. Plus you never know when we'll get another CO / PL that follows the Cult of Ranger School and pretends the tactics taught there are somehow relevant... 

-Always remember that your two guns are the most casualty producing weapons organic to our dismounted Infantry. 

Sadly, because we have .50's and Mk19's on our vics, our 240's and their capabilities are neglected by the higher ups- all the motivated gun teams in the world can't do a whole lot if they give us 100-200 round of belted 7.62 per lane for my entire Plt. My Squad was made the SBF for our last AT and we had the only qualified gunner in my entire Plt. So I'm trying to do more with less and build up a Weapons Squad culture that will get more recognition and resources (inshallah). 

-This is an obvious one, but bears mention anyway: practice your shift & lift commo with the assault element.

We have pretty good day and low light lift / shift fire PACE plans, and they've come in handy a few times when we had radio issues. The hardest thing for me to adjust to as a Squad Leader vs a Team Leader is running the radio and letting my Team Leaders do their job. 

-Our TTP was to have the guns run the PAS-13s at night when stationary. 

I have a small amount of time on PAS-13's, but we only used them on OP's and I've never zero'd one. We've talked about using them more in the future, but finding someone that knows how to run one correctly might be an issue, but I'm sure we'll figure it out. If we do run PAS's at night, we'd have to run our 240's with irons during the day- which I'm ok with (we have Strykers for long range targets, and those iron sights are titties anyway). 

-Identify and address the leadership challenges in front of you when running your teams split up.

This is a good point, but we only have enough radios for SL and up so this could be an issue. Lucky for us we're too low on manpower to run 2 gun teams yet, so that gives us time to figure that one out.

Some recommended reading for you to bone up. 

Tracking- I've been doing some reading but a lot of what I'm looking for are first hand tips and tricks that SME's pass along to the next gen usually. 

PRAISE THE FALLEN

SSG Kevin Roberts KIA 7-May-08         SPC Peter Courcy KIA 10-Feb-09

1Lt Nick Dewhirst KIA 20-July-08          PFC Jason Watson KIA 10-Feb-09

CPL Charles Gaffney KIA 24-Dec-08

 

Joined: 2/21/04          Location: Seattle,  WA

Sinister posted:

Are you in the Guard now?  They have some awesome machinegun team competitions, and a bunch of career machinegunners.

Yep, been in the Guard since 2012 but never heard of MG comps. We did schedule a 5 day machine gun course (2 days 240 3 days 249) taught by 18B's from 19th SFG, but it was just cancelled because they're overbudget. FML. I was so looking forward to that...

PRAISE THE FALLEN

SSG Kevin Roberts KIA 7-May-08         SPC Peter Courcy KIA 10-Feb-09

1Lt Nick Dewhirst KIA 20-July-08          PFC Jason Watson KIA 10-Feb-09

CPL Charles Gaffney KIA 24-Dec-08

 

Joined: 2/21/04          Location: Seattle,  WA

My kid missed competing in the Texas Governor's Machinegun Matches this year due to college exams.  Now that he's a lieutenant he's missing out.  His coach was a former Texas and National Guard Bureau M60 Champion (then a SP4, now retired warrant officer).  

Being an M60 A-gunner was some of the best times I had as a private (in the Guard).

Each state has a State Marksmanship Coordinator (SMC, I believe for you guys at Camp Murray) that is supposed to coordinate matches and training before teams go to the National Guard Championships.  Guard Soldiers can compete for the Governor's Twenty and (NGB) Chief's Fifty tabs.

The Guard has many more machinegun SMEs than the active force and make the Regular Army look like retards.  You can also contact the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Robinson in Little Rock.

Here's a link and some photos:

https://www.facebook.com/WinstonPWilsonMatches/

Image result for national guard machine gun matchesImage result for national guard machine gun matchesImage result for national guard machine gun matchesImage result for national guard machine gun matchesImage result for national guard machine gun matchesRelated imageImage result for national guard machine gun matchesRelated imageRelated imageImage result for national guard machine gun matchesImage result for national guard machine gun matches

Well goddamn. Looks like I've got some investigating to do...

PRAISE THE FALLEN

SSG Kevin Roberts KIA 7-May-08         SPC Peter Courcy KIA 10-Feb-09

1Lt Nick Dewhirst KIA 20-July-08          PFC Jason Watson KIA 10-Feb-09

CPL Charles Gaffney KIA 24-Dec-08

 

Joined: 2/21/04          Location: Seattle,  WA

Like DRH2687 said, read the TM's and FM's learn the drills until you know them.  Then do it blindfolded.  load and clear; reduce stoppages;  clear malfunctions; assemble the machine guns and T&E mechanisms.  This builds confidence and competence.

Try to find the ballistics table for the weapons as well.  I bet one of our USMC members has access to it.  Possibly even crosstraining at the USMC Machine Gunner school.

You may also want to read "The Emma Gee's", by H. W. McBride,  published by Lancer Militaria, reprinted in 2000 and online at

https://archive <DOT> org/details/theemmagees00mcbruoft

and his companion memoir, "A Rifleman Went to War".

 

 

 

 

....

Sincerely,

 

Trajan Aurelius

 

 

When violence is the local language, be fluent.

 

“Governments may think and say as they like, but force cannot be eliminated, and it is the only real and unanswerable power. We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.“   Lt. General Paul Carton de Wiart, British Army

 

kaltesherz posted:

-Our TTP was to have the guns run the PAS-13s at night when stationary. 

I have a small amount of time on PAS-13's, but we only used them on OP's and I've never zero'd one. We've talked about using them more in the future, but finding someone that knows how to run one correctly might be an issue, but I'm sure we'll figure it out. If we do run PAS's at night, we'd have to run our 240's with irons during the day- which I'm ok with (we have Strykers for long range targets, and those iron sights are titties anyway).

By way of clarification, we had our A-Gunners scan with the PAS-13 when stationary at night and talk/walk the guns on - don't want to have to pull the Elcan off the 240 every time.  I should have been more specific.

--Dave

 

"Do not touch anything unnecessarily. Beware of pretty girls in dance halls and parks who may be spies, as well as bicycles, revolvers, uniforms, arms, dead horses, and men lying on roads -- they are not there accidentally."

some thoughts

During dismount ops  the WPS  acts like an assistant PSG. He keeps accountability for the first half and passes counts to the PSG. So at danger areas and halts he counts the troops through till the PSG  arrives. Then passes his count off and moved back to his position, near the PL. 

Drill , drill, drill. They will find what works. Biggest thing is the gunner and ag are joined at the hip, the ab can hang back. Ag needs to be quick on the ammo with tough tumbs. If the gunner so much as pauses to pick his nose, ag ,needs to slap a belt on.

The teams do everything together. It should be creepy very creepy. Like share a sleeping bag or woobie together weird and that will be tame, like you wish it was just that. They need to be strong, smart, independent, and fiercely loyal to the gun. If you are doing squad react to contact battle drills let a gun team tag along sometimes to help improve interoperability with the squads.

Witch

drh2687 posted:
kaltesherz posted:

-Our TTP was to have the guns run the PAS-13s at night when stationary. 

I have a small amount of time on PAS-13's, but we only used them on OP's and I've never zero'd one. We've talked about using them more in the future, but finding someone that knows how to run one correctly might be an issue, but I'm sure we'll figure it out. If we do run PAS's at night, we'd have to run our 240's with irons during the day- which I'm ok with (we have Strykers for long range targets, and those iron sights are titties anyway).

By way of clarification, we had our A-Gunners scan with the PAS-13 when stationary at night and talk/walk the guns on - don't want to have to pull the Elcan off the 240 every time.  I should have been more specific.

If you can rig your PAS-13 for scan/find targets with a slaved PEQ aimer, the gunners just have to slew the 240/249 to where you're designating.  We did this in the old days when M24/M40 sniper rifles didn't have rails for their own illuminators.  I would illuminate the target with the PAQ-4 on my carbine, and he would aim Starlight-only on the dazzle spot.

More thoughts.

Learn how to use binos. How the reticle works with the T&E. Especially during times of limited visibility. Have the AG walk the gun on target. Let the gunner only see the T&E. You can do this on the qual rang. Set up T&E draw range cards to targets, and have the gunner 's vision blocked with cardboard or such. The AG calls targets and adjustments. That way they can understand how adjustments and reticle work at different ranges.

Witch

I'm not an Infantryman, but I had the opportunity to command a Stryker battalion for two years, so I got to watch a lot of squad and platoon-level training, and I had to certify each of our nine rifle platoons. That was my first chance to serve in an Infantry unit - I'm Armor, but we can command Infantry, Armor, or Cavalry units at the battalion level -  and I learned a ton in those two years.  First, a quick comment on manning: the Weapons Squad is a highly lethal asset that should be a top priority for manning.  We are still going through a cyclic manning process in the Active component, where we drop down to around 70%-80% and then ramp up again for deployment, despite the goal of maintaining continuous readiness.  Our priority throughout my time in that Stryker Brigade was to fill one Rifle Squad in each platoon, then fill every Weapons Squad, and then start filling out the remaining two squads if people became available.  I went to NTC with one Rifle Squad and one Weapons Squad per platoon, across all three line companies.  It's not my unit, but if the chain of command isn't getting every M240 into the fight, they're losing out on a lot of combat power.

There's been a lot of good comments from other guys who are more knowledgeable and experienced with actually running a Weapons Squad, but as a leader monitoring their performance, the big thing that always stood out to me was weapons maintenance.  Your gun teams can be incredibly fast, tactically savvy, fit, and motivated, but if they (and the WSL) don't know how to get their guns back into operation when they go down, you're going to routinely find yourself going into a fight with only one gun.  I watched several frustrated squads fight with one of their guns throughout an entire live fire lane and never really get off more than a few rounds with it.  The WSLs that I saw who were most successful were the guys who found a mentor (like the former Ranger Battalion PSG you mentioned) and learned everything they could about how to maintain and troubleshoot the M240 (and the Mk 19, since you're on Strykers).  A great WSL is on the spot to help the gun team fix their weapon when it goes down and get it back into action.  He (or she) is the expert on the weapon and knows it like the back of their hand.  The WSL keeps after the PSG, PL, and XO about getting the parts that are needed to repair the guns, get them serviced, job ordered if needed, etc.  Once the guns are running smoothly, you can continue to build on the skill level and coordination of your teams.

My two cents, for what it's worth.

Dave

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