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    Future Fighters: US Army Adds More Training for New Soldiers

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    The US Army is planning to extend its 14-week infantry One Station Unit Training (OSUT) by two months to better prepare soldiers in skills such as land navigation, marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, fire and maneuver and first aid training.

    According to military.com, trainers at Fort Benning, Georgia, will test the plan during a pilot program this summer that will extend infantry OSUT from 14 weeks to 22 weeks. Soldiers currently undergo nine weeks of Basic Combat Training and 4.5 weeks of infantry advanced individual training with the same unit, hence the name OSUT. 

    "It's more reps and sets; we are trying to make sure that infantry soldiers coming out of infantry OSUT are more than just familiar [with ground combat skills]," Col. Townley Hedrick, commandant of the Infantry School of Benning, told Military.com in a June 21 interview.

    "You are going to shoot more bullets; you are going to come out more proficient and more expert than just familiar," he added.

    "In 14 weeks, what we really do is produce a baseline infantry soldier," Col. Kelly Kendrick, the outgoing commander of the 198th Infantry Brigade at Benning, who helped develop the pilot program with former infantry commandant, Brig. Gen. Christopher Donahue, told military.com.

    The new pilot will train two companies from July 13 to mid-December. Once the new program is finalized, trainers will put the program into action across infantry OSUT starting in October 2019, Kendrick explained.

    The new program will emphasize land navigation, marksmanship, combat and first-aid training.

    Currently, soldiers only receive two days of training on land navigation: one day of classroom instruction and one days of hands-on training. The new land navigation program, however, will last a whole week.

    "They are going to do buddy teams to start with, and at the end, they will have to pass day and night land navigation, individually," Kendrick said.

    In addition, the new program will include training on the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (AGOG), a rifle scope used by the US Army.

    "We don't do much ACOG training; you go out to most rifle units, the ACOG is part of the unit's issue," Kendrick said. "It's a shame that we don't train them on the optic that half of them when they walk into their unit the first day and [receive it]."

    Soldiers will also be trained on how to use the the AN/PAS-13 thermal weapons sight and AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggles. 

    While infantry OSUT trainees currently receive around 22 hours of hand-to-hand combat training, under the new regimen they will train for 40 hours.

    "At the end of 40 hours, we are going to take a level-one combatives test, so every soldier that leaves here will be level-one combatives certified," Kendrick explained.

    Soldiers will also get eight days of combat lifesaver and trauma first aid training.

    "You will have a soldier that understands combat lifesaver, first aid and trauma, all those things because right now you just get a little piece of that," Kendrick told military.com.

    The trainers plan on assessing the program on a weekly basis and make necessary changes if required.

    "Is it going to be enough? Do we need more? Those are all the things we are going to work out in this pilot," Kendrick said. "In December, there will be a couple of 14-week companies that graduate at the same time, so part of this is to send both of those groups of soldiers out to units in the Army and get the units' feedback on the product."

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