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MALS-13, MWSS-371 Marines get certified as instructors

By Pfc. Robert L. Botkin | | January 30, 2006

A group of six Marines from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 and Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 joined Marines from West Coast Marine installations in attending the Marine Instructor Development Course at the Gunsite Academy in Prescott, Ariz., from Jan. 30 to Feb.10.

The Marines completed the 12-day training course to become certified instructors for the Enhanced Marksmanship Program.

The Gunsite Academy was founded and is run by retired Marine Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper and contains 27 different ranges that are specifically tailored to help reinforce the lessons taught in class, according to the Gunsite Academy Web site, http://www.gunsite.com.

The course was taught by a group of instructors ranging in background from civilian law enforcement to nuclear, biological and chemical specialists. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Philip Ross, the NBC threat officer for Marine Wing Support Group 37, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., was temporarily assigned to help certify the Marines, said Lt. Col. Joseph Knapp, MALS-13 commanding officer, course attendee and native of Tulsa, Okla.

The Enhanced Marksmanship Program is a new series of weapons classes that teach Marines new combat-oriented skills at close quarters distance with the rifle, pistol and shotgun, said Staff Sgt. Michael A. Cathcart, MALS-13 ground support equipment work center supervisor and native of Cedar Lake, Ind.

The training consisted of 40 hours of instruction on the pistol course and rifle course and 16 hours of instruction on the shotgun course, with foreign weapons training on the AK-47 as well, said Cathcart.

Exercises went at a faster pace than Marines are used to in order to help simulate the fast pace of combat, said Knapp. The Marines in the class also kept their weapons in condition one -- a magazine inserted, round in the chamber and the weapon on safe -- at all times to help develop confidence in the handling of their weapons.

Exercises were also done at night, with the Marines engaging multiple and moving targets, said Cathcart. One of the highlights of the training was the “shoot house,” a structure containing paper targets to test the Marines’ proficiency in a realistic indoor environment.

The training ended with shoot-offs between the class members, all of which were won by Marines from the station, said Cathcart. Sgt. Justin W. Cozee, MWSS-371 radio operator platoon sergeant and native of Anderson, Ind., won the rifle shoot-off, Knapp won the shoot-off for the shotgun and Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Hardin, MALS-13 avionics work center supervisor and native of Friendswood, Texas, won the pistol shoot-off.

The station Marines also showed their prowess when Cpl. Joshua N. Greer, MALS-13 computer systems specialist and native of San Marcus, Texas, set a new record of 32.8 seconds for the scrambler, a seven target shooting course which involves firing from different types of cover while in different positions. The previous record was held by a member of the U.S. Navy Special Warfare Command, said Hardin. Greer set the new record using a stock M-16A2 service rifle, whereas the previous record holder used an M-4 with an advanced combat optical gunsight.

Now that the Marines are qualified instructors, arrangements are being made to supply the station with the proper range facilities so deploying units will have even more advanced training in the war on terror.
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