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Defenders Train on Heavy Weapons

  • Published
  • By Jessica L. Kendziorek
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. --  

In the cold morning air, bursts of gunfire erupt and smoke wafts from machine gun rifle barrels while Reserve Citizen Airmen fire down range.

Members of the 403rd Security Forces Squadron conducted the firing portion of their heavy weapons qualification training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, Jan. 18.

“Heavy weapons firing is a requirement for our security forces deployment needs,” said Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Ganus, 403rd SFS superintendent of program and readiness. “Historically time and funding constraints have made this a just-in-time training before a deployment, but we are working to provide this training twice a year to ensure mission readiness.”

Members of security forces train to deploy and as part of their mission capabilities, defenders must qualify on multiple different firearms: the 9mm handgun, and the M4 carbine rifle, and some members must also qualify on a heavy weapon; either the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), known as a light machine gun, or the M240 Bravo machine gun.


“They were put through a course which consisted of learning about the weapons; from the parts to cleaning procedures, and then they must complete progress checks to make sure they are ready prior to going to the range to fire,” said Ganus. “On the final day of training we will follow-up with weapons cleaning, which is the last part of their qualification.”

To ensure enough defenders met the deployment needs, multiple Airmen were selected for each weapon and the security forces operations section made the decision on which airman learned which weapon.

Even though learning a new weapon was important, Senior Airman Jarvis Jackson, 403rd SFS squad member said he was excited to be picked to learn the M249 SAW and expand his knowledge of weapons that he could possibly use during a deployment.

Showing their go-to attitude, the defenders got up early and went out in the freezing temperatures to complete their qualifications on the firing range.

“Being out here, even in the cold is worth it to get to fire these weapons,” said Jackson. “Because we are constantly training, we try to have fun while doing it; from learning the different weapons, new tactics, and getting refreshers that make sure we are ready to get out the door.”