FORT JACKSON, S.C. –
Sailors and Airmen from Joint Base Charleston's 628th Security Forces Squadron, received instruction on boat and land-mounted M240B machine gun operations at Ft. Jackson, S.C., March 12, 2013.
The training, which takes place over the course of several weeks, enables the JB Charleston - Weapons Station Harbor Patrol Team to support the 628th SFS' unique mission of protecting the waterways bordering the JB Charleston - Weapons Station.
The training, which starts with weapons and boat familiarization, concludes with water-based qualifications and qualifies security forces personnel to become part of the HPT team.
"Like other job openings in the Air Force, I simply applied, and as a benefit of joint basing, I have a unique opportunity to serve on the HPT with our Navy and civilian crewmates," said Airman 1st Class Cort Romo, 628th SFS installation entry controller.
The training also allowed current HPT members to maintain their weapons proficiency by using this opportunity to gain extra trigger time.
Instruction began with M240B gun basics, progressed to single, double and triple-shot control, and continued into rhythm shooting and runaway gun stoppage. The second day's evolutions included night shooting, with and without the aid of night-vision goggles.
"The training sessions we have conducted up to this point are building blocks," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Vincent Stephens, a master-at-arms assigned to the 628th SFS and range officer-in-charge. "The additional skill sets we learn and the muscle-action repetition will aid all of us by providing the necessary tools used during our patrols."
"I've never fired the M240B before," said Seaman John Freeman, a master-at-arms and activated reservist from the Navy Operational Support Center Columbia, assigned to the 628th SFS. "From learning the basics of trigger control, advanced tactics and night shooting, becoming proficient in all of these skills will be essential during our patrols."
"The 7.62mm ammunition leaves the muzzle at 2,750 feet per second (1,875 mph). The round will definitely punch through a small boat or cinderblock," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Bradley Nguyen, a gunner's mate assigned to the 628th SFS and lead instructor for the course.
The weapon is capable of firing up to 600 rounds-per-minute and has a maximum effective range of approximately 1,960 yards for an area target and 870 yards for a point target.
"The M240B is a devastatingly powerful, crew-served weapon that requires increased tactical skill, instinctive response and smart decision making since we operate in a populated environment," said Nguyen. "Our goal is that the skills learned in a training environment become habit, so if our crews are called into action, operating the weapons will be second nature and they will execute their mission professionally and by the book."
One of the highlights of the training event was a talking gun exercise, an evolution where HPT shooters develop communication skills and weapon proficiency sufficient to deter or repel adversaries by providing constant fire from multiple weapons. The talking gun exercise was conducted during the day with both guns ground-mounted and at night with one gun on the ground with the other gun boat-mounted. The evolution involves teams communicating each gun's status between teams with no lapse in firing the weapons.
The training is conducted in four parts. In addition to the initial weapons familiarization and night training using night vision goggles, SFS forces will complete the training by participating in exercises that simulate firing from a boat while it is still on land, and finally from a boat on the water.