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NMCB-22 First Reserve Seabee Battalion to Get FATS System

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS030624-29 Release Date: 6/24/2003 4:25:00 PM

By Ensign Michael Street, Naval Reserve Information Bureau Southwwest Det. 111

FORT WORTH, Texas (NNS) -- Training for warfare requires Seabees to qualify by firing their M-16 rifle or 9 mm pistol on the range.

Since not all Sailors have experience firing weapons, the FATS (Fire Arm Training System) fills the gap in their training needs. According to FATS system operator, Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Stacy Lindley of Tombean, Texas, the "feedback from the system is very helpful, especially for those who shoot only once a year."

The computer-driven system uses compressed carbon dioxide gas to simulate the recoil of either the M-16 rifle or the 9mm pistol. The operator of the system places simulated range targets on the projection screen. Each Sailor must insert the magazine and cycle the action in order to ready the weapon. The weapons are equipped with an infrared laser that not only registers where bullets go, but constantly monitors where the weapon is aimed.

Gunner's Mate 1st Class Timothy Anderson, a system operator from Dallas said, "I love it. It's a good system; great for marksmanship and great for training folks who haven't handled the weapons."

The FATS system can also be configured to place Seabees in realistic combat scenarios, such as defending the gates at newly established perimeters.

"We exist to build and defend," said Ensign Michael G. Rodriguez, officer-in-charge of NMCB-22's Det 0122. "Seabees not only train to qualify within their specific construction rating, but they also train to qualify for their warfare rating."

"We train our gate guards heavily on 'shoot, no-shoot" scenarios' said Rodriguez. During each scenario, Sailors firing the M-16 are allotted four magazines, totaling 120 rounds of simulated ammunition. The system locks the weapon upon firing 30 rounds, which is equivalent to the number of rounds contained in a single magazine. Shooters must remove the magazine, re-insert it and cycle the action before they can resume firing.

The system can be configured to fire four M-16 rifles, four 9mm pistols or any combination of the two. By offering various configurations, the systems accurately simulated patrols composed of both enlisted and officers.

The Seabees operating the new FATS system had to learn the equipment and software at a rapid pace. "We got a four-hour super crash course on the system," said Lindley. "In fact, the system is so new that the Seabees had to place the equipment in a temporary facility until a permanent, air-conditioned building could be built. Although the equipment will have a new facility, it is designed to remain portable. Speaking of the portability of the system, Anderson said, "We should be able to set the system up very quickly."

The training provided by the FATS system is invaluable to the Seabees. NMCB-22 Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Bellis of Buffalo, N.Y., believes the new FATS System will provide each Sailor with realistic training for forward deployments.

According to Bellis, 128 of the battalion's Seabees were recently deployed to locations such as Rota, Spain, and Guam. With the FATS system, Sailors in future deployments will be at a greater state of readiness.

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