USAMU Soldiers Embark On Historic Mission
By Michael Molinaro
FORT BENNING, Ga. —-(AmmoLand.com)- Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit set out on a historic mission for the unit, deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Dec. 11 to train Afghan security forces in marksmanship proficiency.
It is the first time in the history of the prestigious unit that Soldiers will work in concert with indigenous Soldiers. The USAMU offered its marksmanship training capabilities to the military leadership in Afghanistan for as long as they need it, and having this persistent marksmanship training presence for the Afghani Soldiers falls right in line with President Obama’s intent of increasing the ability to train competent Afghan security forces and help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.
“This unit is ideally suited for this type of mission,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Hodne, commander, USAMU. “Our Soldiers – the best Shooters, gunsmiths, and marksmanship instructors in the world – will enhance the overall readiness of forces executing counterinsurgency in Afghanistan through a marksmanship train-the-trainer program. In this way the USAMU will make an invaluable contribution to the war effort.”
An array of Soldiers from the various shooting disciplines within the USAMU and the custom firearms shop will make up the cross-functional teams that will deploy on a rotational basis until their mission is accomplished. The USAMU is the only unit of its kind in the Army: providing support to Army accessions and performing at the highest level possible in competitive shooting, to include the Olympics, while also training thousands of Soldiers every year.
The dedication, professionalism and expertise of the USAMU showcase the best of Army Soldier skills that instill positive impressions of the Army all over the country as they connect America’s people to America’s Army; they will take those same values with them to train the Afghan forces.
“This deployment is consistent with the depth and breadth of the USAMU mission,” said Sgt. Maj. Martin Barreras, the unit’s senior enlisted advisor. “On any given day, USAMU Soldiers could be executing such disparate missions as training Afghan security forces, instructing Soldiers throughout the entire Army on marksmanship fundamentals,, improving weapons and ammunition through research and development for the Warfighter, coaching junior shooters at various high school clinics, and winning a world championship in China, all simultaneously.”
This is not the first time that Soldiers from the USAMU have deployed in harm’s way. A cadre of Soldiers deployed to Vietnam in 1968 to serve as sniper instructors for American forces, providing sniper training and the know-how of the USAMU gunsmiths, the most competent in the world. Members of the custom firearms shop developed and tested the M21 sniper rifle, which was successfully used in Vietnam. The Army’s current M24 sniper system is also a product of the USAMU.
The USAMU has had an indirect impact on the global war on terror since its initial stages by training Soldiers from units throughout U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Special Operations Command, as well as National Guard Soldiers preparing to deploy for the first time. They have also conducted numerous train-the-trainer missions for drill sergeants, who subsequently use the tools they learned to train basic trainees set to fill the ranks after graduation.
In 2003, the USAMU sent a team of Soldiers to Iraq to train officers and noncommissioned officers from the 1st Armored Division on marksmanship fundamentals. While there have been boots on the ground previously, this mission is unlike any other for the unit.
“I’m extremely proud of how the USAMU Soldiers and civilians execute their wide-ranging mission, from supporting Army recruiting and accessions, to supporting the Warfighter through marksmanship training and small-arms research and development initiatives,” Hodne remarked. “This historic undertaking by the Soldiers of this unique unit demonstrates yet another facet of the tremendous capability that resides within it.”
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.