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CHAPTER 4

UNIT TRAINING

This chapter guides the unit leader in developing a successful unit training program.

4-1. TRAINING STRATEGY

A training strategy is the overall concept for integrating resources to train the skills—individual and collective—needed to perform a unit's wartime mission. Commanders at TRADOC institutions as well as in the units themselves implement the Dragon training strategy, whose four parts include initial training, sustainment and advanced training, collective training, and leader training. Commanders make sure that they include trainer certification as part of the overall training strategy. Using this manual, a unit commander can develop an effective Dragon training program that meets unit requirements.

a. Initial Gunner Training. Initial gunner training is a prescribed POI conducted in TRADOC institutions. Initial gunner training includes 15 blocks of instruction. To pass, the soldier must successfully achieve a score of 16 out of 20 engagements on the DGT and successfully complete the 11 tasks in the gunner's performance test. (Chapter 6 provides an example POI.)

b. Sustainment and Advanced Training. Sustainment and advanced training are conducted in the unit.

(1) Sustainment Training. Sustainment training, conducted monthly, quarterly, and annually, ensures gunners retain the skills they learned in initial training. To retain their skills, gunners practice precision tracking on the DGT at least monthly. To practice, they fire selected engagements from the monthly sustainment table using the DGT and DFTT. They must also complete at least 50 percent of the gunner's skill test. (Chapter 7 discusses sustainment-training programs in detail.)

(2) Advanced Training. The unit conducts advanced training. It consists of tracking exercises using the DGT, DFTT, or the Dragon MILES. The tracking engagements grow more difficult. Existing conditions, equipment, or tactical play determine difficulty. Examples of advanced training include—

  • Night tracking exercises using artificial illumination or the AN/TAS-5 nightsight.

  • MOPP tracking exercises.

  • Other situational gunnery exercises.

c. Live-Fire Training. The number of live missiles the gunner may fire depends on the type of unit and on budget constraints. The unit may conduct annual live fire in an instructional setting or may integrate it into other live-fire exercises. Where possible, live missile firings should closely follow a scheduled qualification. Only currently qualified gunners should be allowed to fire live missiles.

d. Collective Training. The unit conducts collective training to fully integrate the Dragon into the unit's overall combat power. Collective training has two parts: force-on-force training and live fire training.

(1) The unit conducts force-on-force training with MILES during a squad and platoon FTX or STX. During semiannual external evaluations, the unit evaluates the platoons on Dragon employment.

(2) The unit conducts live-fire training using the laser target interface device (LTID) or actual missiles (live or inert) along with platoon LFXs. Dragon gunners or teams should participate in squad or platoon collective live-fire exercises at least twice a year.

e. Leader Training. Leader training occurs in the unit through NCO and officer development classes and personal initiative. Leaders selected as Dragon instructors must have already demonstrated proficiency in using the Dragon and should periodically recertify to maintain leader proficiency.

4-2. COMMANDER'S RESPONSIBILITY

The commander plans, executes, and supervises training, selecting instructors and gunners based on the criteria in this chapter. He makes sure that instructors and gunners receive training. The commander does the following:

a. Allows adequate time for effective training.

b. Ensures all training meets training standards.

c. Combines Dragon training with other unit tactical training.

d. Ensures the maintenance facility properly maintains all consolidated Dragon training equipment.

e. Conducts sustainment training.

f. Ensures subordinate leaders conduct operational readiness checks.

g. Periodically inspects all tactical and training equipment.

h. Keeps a formal record of—

  • Inspections.

  • Training results.

  • Gunner qualifications.

  • Gunner turnover.

i. Evaluates the Dragon training and corrects deficiencies in future training.

4-3. TRAINING PROGRAM GOALS

Training program goals provide leaders with the objectives necessary for success. For soldiers to achieve proficiency in Dragon gunnery, leaders must—

  • Train them to successfully engage armored targets.

  • Train them to maintain and operate the Dragon and related training devices.

  • Provide clear sustainment training standards.

  • Make sure gunners know how to meet the standards.

  • Train gunners to those standards.

  • Conduct sustainment training.

  • Evaluate each gunner's performance.

4-4. INSTRUCTOR SELECTION

Dragon instructors have to meet the same standards that gunners do. The commander picks soldiers who want to and can instruct and who have a high level of tactical competence at squad and platoon levels. Experience as a Dragon gunner will serve an instructor well, but does not guarantee a soldier's success as an instructor. Finally, the overall training strategy must include trainer certification.

4-5. GUNNER SELECTION

First, the leader identifies soldiers who want to be Dragon gunners. Then, he makes sure each soldier closely approaches the physical standards for Dragon gunners shown in Table 4-1.

1.

To track moving targets, the soldier must be able to flex his upper trunk to the left and right.

2.

To hold the weapon steady during tracking and to carry it as required, a soldier must have considerable upper body strength and physical stamina

3.

To use the Dragon, a soldier must stand between 5 feet tall and 6 feet 2 inches tall—the bipod only adjusts for this height range.

4.

To acquire a target, fire the Dragon, and track the round, a soldier must show that he can hold his breath for at least 13 seconds.

5.

To use the Dragon, a soldier must have unaided minimum vision of 20/100, correctable to 20/20. The focus (reticle adjustment) can only compensate for this amount of near-sightedness.

6.

To use the Dragon, a soldier must have right-eye dominance. He must be able to close his left eye independently. That allows him to keep his left eye closed to protect it from distracting dust and debris.

Table 4-1. Physical standards for the Dragon gunner.

4-6. MATCHING THE TRAINING PROGRAM TO THE UNIT

Mandatory training programs seldom fit a unit's particular circumstances and needs. Only the unit's own commander can develop its training program. Table 4-2 shows the steps for developing a unit-training program. The key is to consolidate training at unit level. For this to succeed, the commander must—

  • Assign a qualified NCO with additional duties as NCOIC of Dragon training.

  • Include Dragon training on both short-range and long-range training calendars.

  • Hold subordinate leaders accountable for execution of training.

1.

Identify all the unit's tactical and administrative missions.

2.

Analyze the unit's missions. Determine what individual and unit tasks soldiers must accomplish in order to complete the mission.

3.

Establish individual and unit training objectives to accomplish the unit's tasks.

4.

Determine the level of individual and unit proficiency in the unit's tasks.

5.

Determine individual and unit training needed to attain the training objectives.

6.

Identify available training resources.

7.

Program and schedule training based on the training resources available and on individual and unit training needs.

8.

Conduct training.

9.

Monitor and evaluate training, and revise the training program as required.

Table 4-2. Steps in developing a unit training program.

4-7. LEADER TRAINING

Each commander must determine what specific, Dragon-related tasks he and other leaders must perform. Then he develops these tasks into training objectives. Next, instructors choose proper training methods, depending on the resources available and other training requirements. If incoming leaders do not know how to employ the Dragon, the commander makes sure they receive Dragon training—from the basics on up through the more difficult tasks. Initial Dragon training works well in the classroom, since it depends on the use of lectures, seminars, small discussion groups, and briefings. This cuts down on the use of expensive training resources such as ranges and transportation.

4-8. GUNNER TRAINING

Dragon gunners should be trained consistently and as repetitively as resources allow. All training includes gunnery and night fire.

a. Training Methods. Two main methods are used to train the Dragon gunner:

(1) Centralized Gunnery Training. Centralized gunnery training requires the unit to train all Dragon gunners at once. Training type depends on the training resources available (equipment, facilities, personnel, and time) and the tasks to be taught.

(a) Equipment and Facilities. Limited distribution of training equipment suggests centralized control of training at the highest unit level possible. Also, the number of firing ranges suitable for the Dragon may dictate centralized control over these facilities.

(b) Personnel. A shortage of qualified Dragon instructors can hamper gunnery training.

(c) Time. Centralizing Dragon training can save training time since fewer instructors and classes are required. For example, if the training is centralized at brigade level or higher, battalion and company level instructors can focus on other training requirements. With centralized training, qualified Dragon instructors prepare and conduct training. They need less time to prepare than would unqualified instructors.

(d) Tasks. When considering centralized training, the commander also considers the task he wants to train. If the task relates to gunnery training or qualification, the number of training sets and ammunition available might limit the choice to centralized training. Dragon gunners first learn how to prepare a basic range card. Then they practice applying what they have learned using different pieces of terrain or terrain substitution (maps, sand tables, or 35-mm slides of the terrain). Gunners build these skills by working in small groups where they can ask questions, talk about the answers, and debate the advantages and disadvantages of the range cards.

(2) Round-Robin Training. Battalions have a limited number of training sets, so soldiers cannot practice all at once. Rather than letting a few soldiers practice on the equipment while others watch, trainers can set up round-robin (multistation) training. Soldiers then rotate through the stations. This keeps everyone actively engaged in training the whole time. For example, soldiers might train on the equipment itself at Station Number 1, learn to prepare range cards at Station Number 2, and learn to identify enemy vehicles at Station Number 3 (Figure 4-1).

Figure 4-1.  Example of round-robin training.

Figure 4-1. Example of round-robin training.

b. Gunnery. Gunnery qualifies gunners to fire the Dragon tactically and nontactically. To qualify, gunners must meet the following objectives:

(1) Detect vehicles at different ranges under varying field conditions, such as rolling hills and vegetation, with the vehicles moving and stationary.

(2) Determine whether a moving target, if engaged, will reach cover before impact.

(3) Prepare a firing position and range card.

(4) Know how to lessen the signature of the backblast.

(5) Know what suppressive fires the enemy can place on the firing position.

(6) Know how to use cover and concealment, deception, surprise, and movement.

(7) Know unit SOPs covering rules of engagement, including signals to lift or shift fires, priority of targets, and times to engage targets.

(8) Know where to obtain resupply of missiles.

(9) Know how to inspect the round before firing.

c. Night Training. Since threat doctrine stresses night operations, gunners should practice their skills at night. They can do this during FTXs, with the gunners using the FHTs with nightsights, or they can do it on a range, under controlled conditions, with artificial illumination.

4-9. TEAM TRAINING

Due to the frequent need for leaders to employ Dragons as part of a team, team training must become an integral part of Dragon training in the field. As a rule, Dragon gunners employed apart from their squad positions have at least one assistant gunner and ammunition bearer with them, or they may be employed in an antiarmor fire team. The other members of the team work with the gunner as a coordinated element. As such, their duties include providing security for the gunner, helping the gunner prepare his firing position, carrying ammunition (missiles), and locating targets.

a. Once gunners have qualified with the Dragon, and once leaders have trained in tactical employment of the Dragon, they can train together profitably in FTXs.

(1) During their training, leaders must decide how to employ the Dragon. They could use scenarios, simulated threat conditions, or OPFOR, for example. Based on these simulated conditions, platoon leaders practice choosing armor avenues of approach, selecting Dragon firing positions, and making related employment decisions.

(2) Leaders should have gunners prepare firing positions and range cards, and simulate engaging targets. Employing gunners with their squads helps train the other squad or fire team members to perform their duties (providing security, locating targets, and so forth). Then, leaders should evaluate and discuss the training exercises to decide if the techniques and tactics used were the best ones for the situation.

b. When qualifying on the range, Dragon gunners usually learn under near ideal conditions: They have excellent fields of fire and a target that moves conveniently back and forth on level ground directly in front of them. Except when other gunners fire, they have no distractions. So, after qualifying on the range, they are ready for more advanced training. This means using the Dragon under more realistic, and therefore more difficult, conditions, which the commander creates. The following paragraphs suggest a few ways to add realism to Dragon training:

(1) During both FTXs and practice firing exercises on the range, train the gunner to concentrate while tracking a target. Try to distract him with various combinations and amounts of smoke, haze, and harassing fires. Detonate explosives near him to simulate the noise of enemy artillery and tank fires. To simulate nearby explosions, detonate explosives under a bag of flour. Obscure the target with smoke in or near the gunner's position or target—this makes tracking more realistic.

(2) During MILES-Dragon tracking exercises, the target vehicle with the MILES receivers must travel over various terrain. This moves the target across the front or towards the gunner's position over various terrain such as curving roads, or wooded or rolling terrain.

4-10. COLLECTIVE TRAINING

In addition to monthly or quarterly training and qualification (or both), Dragon gunners must demonstrate their proficiency during squad and platoon exercises. Each Dragon gunner takes part in live-fire exercises as part of a squad or larger unit. He does the same in a platoon external evaluation based on standards in ARTEP 7-8-MTP (RDL version). In live-fire exercises, the unit uses actual Dragon rounds or LTIDs with other small-arms targets. Platoon external evaluations should include medium antiarmor weapons tasks and should be conducted as part of a company FTX or STX.

4-11. EVALUATION

One of an instructor's major responsibilities is to evaluate training. The training to be evaluated may be training that the instructor conducted or training that was conducted by another instructor. The evaluation is concerned with the effectiveness and efficiency of training.

a. Training effectiveness refers to whether the soldiers, teams, or units met the standards established in the commander's training objective(s).

b. Training efficiency refers to how well instructors used the available training resources. Leaders should write all evaluations in the AAR format. This helps make sure that gunners remember what they learned from their mistakes. It also helps trainers improve future training.



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