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This chapter discusses the training strategy and combat conditions for the 40-mm grenade launcher, M203. (Appendix A discusses the M79 model.)


An effective overall training strategy produces well-trained grenadiers and trainers by integrating resources into an effective year-round training program. Beginning with IET and continuing both in other institutions (NCOES, IOBC, and IOAC) and in the unit, such a program trains and sustains the individual and collective skills needed to perform the wartime mission. Specific training strategies are implemented by institutional and unit training programs, and supporting training strategies are implemented through the use of other resources such as publications, ranges, ammunition, training aids, devices, simulators, and simulations. The year-round program includes periodic preliminary marksmanship training followed by zeroing and range qualification firing. Other key elements of the program are training for the trainers and refresher training for nonfiring skills. The example in Figure 1-1 shows the flow of unit sustainment training.

a.  Institutional Training. Training strategy begins with combat arms initial-entry training (IET), which trains soldiers in the standards of M203 gunnery tasks. Soldiers graduate with basic and advanced M203 skills that include maintaining the M203 and using it to hit a variety of targets. Other institutional training programs, such as NCOES, IOBC, and IOAC, reinforce these skills. Related soldier skills are integrated into tactical training (STP 21-1-SMCT).

b.  Unit Training. Training continues in units, where, in addition to sustaining proficiency in skills gained in institutional training, leaders and soldiers develop and sustain new skills such as suppressive and supporting fire. These skills are integrated into collective training exercises to develop combat readiness. Preliminary marksmanship training is conducted before firings and as other opportunities arise. (Appendix B discusses an M203 unit training program.) To be effective, a unit training program focuses on three battlefield variables:

(1)  Target. Is the target moving or stationary, single or multiple?

(2)  Grenadier. Is the grenadier moving or stationary? Is he kneeling, prone, or standing?

(3)  Conditions. Is visibility full or limited? Must soldiers wear protective masks or not? Is it day or night?

c.  Initial and Sustainment Training. A task that is taught correctly and learned well is retained longer, so initial training is critical. In addition to being more easily sustained, well-trained skills are also easier to regain if not used for some time. Retraining may be needed, however, if too much time elapses, if training doctrine changes, or if personnel turnover is high.

(1)  Collective Training. Collective training exercises progress from drills (squad, section, and platoon) to STXs, and then to live-fire tactical exercises (LFXs). Drill books and MTPs provide tasks and guidance needed to plan and conduct the exercises. After each, leaders and trainers conduct an AAR to evaluate both individual and unit proficiency. The results provide readiness indicators and requirements for future training. LFXs provide leaders with an overview of unit proficiency and training effectiveness. They can be conducted on any range approved for M203 firing.

(2)  Leader Training. The most critical part of the Army's overall gunnery training strategy is to train the trainers and leaders first. Leader courses, however, include only limited M203 training, so officers and NCOs should use available publications to develop their proficiency with the M203. Publications help leaders plan, conduct, and evaluate their gunnery training programs. Proponent schools provide training support materials (field manuals, training aids, devices, simulators, and audiovisual programs), which provide the doctrinal foundations for training the force.

(3)  Advanced Training. Once the soldier knows the weapon and has demonstrated skill in zeroing, training strategy provides for additional live-fire training and target-acquisition exercises, which are conducted at various ranges. To develop proficiency, soldiers must master different types of targets and scenarios of increasing difficulty.

(4)  Proficiency Assessment. This is conducted on the zeroing and record live-fire exercise range when soldiers complete IET.


The trainer must realize that qualification is not an end but a step toward reaching combat readiness. To reach combat readiness, the grenadier should consider his position, the capabilities of his weapon, and the following combat conditions:

a.  Enemy personnel are seldom visible except when assaulting.

b.  Most combat fire must be directed at an area where the enemy has been detected or is suspected but cannot be seen. Area targets consist of objects or outlines of men irregularly spaced along covered and concealed areas (ground folds, hedges, borders of woods).

c.  Most combat targets can be detected by smoke, flash, dust, noise, or movement and are visible only for a moment.

d.  Some combat targets can be engaged by using reference points, predetermined fire, or range card data.

e.  The nature of the target and irregularities of terrain and vegetation may require a grenadier to use a variety of positions to place effective fire on the target. In a defensive situation, the grenadier usually fires from a supported fighting position.

f.  Most combat targets have a low-contrast outline and are obscured. Therefore, choosing an aiming point in elevation is difficult.

g.  Time-stressed fire in combat can be divided into three types:

.  A single, fleeing target that must be engaged quickly.

.  Area targets engaged within the time they remain available.

.  A surprise target that must be engaged at once with instinctive, accurate fire.

Figure 1-1. Unit gunnery sustainment strategy.

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