Year of the NCO: NCOs The Reason USAMU is the ‘Home of Champions’
By Michael Molinaro
FORT BENNING, Ga. —-(AmmoLand.com)- Noncommissioned officers are the standard keepers for the military and provide a valuable service in training, leading, mentoring and caring for Soldiers. Nowhere is that more true than at the United States Army Marksmanship Unit, the “Home of Champions,” whose NCOs train, lead and mentor more than just their own Soldiers—they do so for the entire Army and an entire nation.
The USAMU, formed in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to raise the standard of marksmanship proficiency and combat readiness in the Army, is a unit made up of 91 Soldiers; 74 of those are NCOs and only two officers are assigned to the unit.
“I have had the privilege of serving in the special operations community for my entire Army career and the parallels of those units and the USAMU are remarkable,” said Sgt. Maj. Martin Barreras, the USAMU senior enlisted advisor. “The NCOs in the USAMU take enormous pride in being the backbone of the unit and taking on duties normally associated with officers. They handle the scheduling and execution of training, the writing and implementation of doctrine, the professional development of their Soldiers, the establishment and management of their budgets and facilities—to name but a few of their responsibilities.”
NCOs from the USAMU instruct more than 3,000 Soldiers each year— drill sergeants, trainers, and NCOs who take those lessons learned to train thousands upon thousands of new and deploying Soldiers. USAMU NCOs teach candidates in the Reserve Officer Training Corps, enabling future leaders to be proficient in basic rifle marksmanship before they enter the active Army.
“This Unit represents the heart and soul of marksmanship within the United States Army and the NCOs that make up the unit are dedicated in improving the combat effectiveness through our marksmanship training,” said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Coffey.
USAMU NCOs conduct the annual small-arms firing school at Camp Perry, Ohio every summer, instructing more than a thousand novice shooters on the fundamentals of marksmanship. They hold junior clinics nearly every month of the year throughout the U.S. and their dedication, professionalism and expertise instill positive impressions of the Army that may help prospective candidates in their decision to enter the Army.
“Our NCOs understand the complexities of their mission which consists of not only competing or training, but assisting with accessions support wherever they go and in whatever they are doing,” Barreras said. “They are well versed and knowledgeable with regard to their role as ambassadors for the Army to everyone who sees them and understand that they are the Army to many people.”
NCOs are accomplished military professionals who have combined civilian and military education opportunities to become an exemplary model of “Army-strong” leadership. The NCOs at the USAMU thrive under the pressure of having to compete for an international title in China one day and the next ensure that a Soldier from the National Guard preparing to deploy in harm’s way is groomed for proficiency in marksmanship.
“I believe that the NCOs in this unit understand that this is first a volunteer unit and second you must also be selected according to your performance level or ability to perform under pressure, no matter the discipline that you are a part of,” said Coffey. “With the two things above in mind, all of us know that it a distinct privilege to serve in the unit and we put our hearts into doing the best that we can at all we do.”
The USAMU’s mission is to raise the standard of marksmanship proficiency and combat readiness throughout the Army by sharing knowledge gained from competing and winning in national/ international competitions, research and development and advanced training programs while enhancing the Army’s recruiting effort through an active public information and public relations program. For more information on the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, contact the Public Affairs Office at (706) 545-5436, [email protected] or www.USAMU.com . The U.S. Practical Shooting Association is a nonprofit membership association affiliated with the International Practical Shooting Confederation, which is comprised of approximately 67 nations.