Corps Strength – “Running and Gunning”

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One thing I’ve learned in working overseas with international militaries (one of many things), is that no matter how many different countries you deploy to, you’ll be surprised by something you see. My latest trip to Trinidad was no exception. Having had almost a dozen senior enlisted people from Trinidad attend our resident Leadership Course here in Pensacola over the last few years, I did expect to see a professional outfit; I did and that was no surprise. Their ships, weapons, bases and other equipment were in excellent condition; professionally maintained and their people were also professional and well trained and I saw a lot of it up close during my stay.

During my two week’s there we held class daily with about 30 senior enlisted of their Army, Coast Guard and Air Guard. Like most places, the students were like sponges, anxious to learn, with non-stop questions, again no surprise. We had some great discussions during Rules of Engagement, Force Protection and Maritime Security classes. As you could imagine being just 10 NM off the coast of Venezuela, those are all hot topics there nowadays. It was an all-around great training event. I especially enjoyed watching the recruit training of both the Coast Guard and Army, different than ours (British model in many cases), but still pretty good. Especially when I compare it to some other countries I’ve been too.

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I was billeted on the Coast Guard station, which was one very steep hill away from their largest Army base and where they conduct recruit training. I had some great PT with the steep hills and the outdoor workout equipment they had on that base. Almost every morning I ran over that hill and while I got my own sweat on, I got to watch them train. Not just the Army, but many Coast Guard people who also ran over that F’ing hill every morning. Of course, I saw more people dragging ass (like me), than hauling ass, as those hills are no joke and that was no surprise either.

However, every other day or so, I saw a group of Coast Guard people (men and women), that were obviously a notch up on the PT scale. They all looked about 6ft tall and flew by my old ass on the hills without a backward glance. A couple times I saw the same group in Army camo, carrying weapons as they ran. What I found out later is that this was a small boat outfit, kind of a SWAT team on the water. Their Coast Guard fills a Navy, Marine and LE role, depending on the mission. Which at any time (or all at once), can be Drug Enforcement, Immigration Control, Firefighting, Anti-Piracy, Search and Rescue, etc. They are pretty much ready for anything, driving some kick ass high tech ships to help them. They get a lot of training from us and from what I gathered, some from the Brits also. If you’re wondering, it’s a very robust natural gas industry that pays the tab for the new high speed ships and gear, (Not our tax dollars).

In any case, I learned that once a week this unit executes a ½ swim, followed immediately by a 4 mile run over the mtns, and ends with a full round of CQB shooting, with MP5’s and SIG 226. I spoke to one of the team members and he stated the shooting after the swim and run was the most important part. “As we have to practice on how shoot well when breathing hard and fatigued”. There is a shooting qualification standard they have to meet every time, it’s not just for practice. That was a surprise, not that he isn’t 100% correct, but that most international militaries don’t train that way, even in the U.S. only certain units in our military do this on a regular basis. The fact is that most of the time, movement on a range is tightly controlled as the focus is on safety and shooting from a fixed point and rested state, especially when qualifying for a shooting badge. Now before you get your panties in a bunch, I know there is “running and gunning” training conducted here, I’ve done a lot of it myself. However, I will contend that we need to do more of it, a lot more, as that’s the real world. Just like I’ve always said we should do more, (if not all) of our PT training in boots and Utes, not running shoes and shorts. It was also a surprise that they recognized the need for continuous practice and training in this type of shooting. As we all know, bullets cost money and shooting a lot, wears out weapons, which is more money. However, they understand it’s a necessary investment that they’re willing to make.

The point here is that military PT has a special and specific primary purpose, that being to prepare people for combat operations and make them harder to kill. Not as many people think, that it’s to prepare you for a fitness test, so you can get a good score for promotion. Yes, getting a good score on a PFT/PRT is important, but not the most important. I also realize that different units have different missions and from that different levels of physical readiness and shooting ability are required, and trained for. However, we all have to shoot and maintain at least a basic level of fitness, so I contend that we should combine these two important aspects together much more often, and for everyone that carries a weapon, not just for Combat Arms outfits. Enough bitching for now, busy summer ahead with lots to talk about. Till then, be safe always, good when you can.

Semper Fi



One Response to “Corps Strength – “Running and Gunning””

  1. JKifer says:

    This is absolutely, 100% true… good PT… good firearms training… then combine and prepare to be humbled.