Seabees Build on Combat Skills

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Dusty and hot: that's April in Kuwait. These are perfect conditions for a day on the firing range, where the training department of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 spends plenty of time. The department is responsible for training every Seabee who comes through Kuwait. On this particular day, NMCB 28 received Enhanced Marksmanship Training, a course of fire which includes training in combat movement, search and assess procedures, magazine change drills and weapon malfunction exercises. Over the course of two days, nearly 150 members of NMCB 28 fired approximately 20,000 rounds of ammunition from distances ranging from three to 25 meters. The NMCB 133 training team is comprised of an officer in charge who is responsible for overall operations and safety on the range, an appropriate number of line coaches for the number of shooters, a range safety officer (RSO), and medical staff.

Line coaches are responsible for individual guidance on the firing line. Coaches ensure that the trainees grasp the concept of the exercise while providing guidance in the areas of proper sight alignment, posture, and muzzle awareness. Steelworker 1st Class Antonio Chavezplata, one of the line coaches, explained his instructing style. “You have to take them through the steps so that they grasp it. They learn with hands-on experience,” said Chavezplata. “I want them to feel confident with the weapon.” The job of a line coach is demanding, combining individual instruction of inexperienced shooters and keeping a keen eye out for safety violations. Builder Constructionman Nicholas Condon explained how training is also rewarding. “I like being a teacher,” said Condon. As two members of NMCB 28 approached to shake his hand and thank him for his guidance, Condon remarked, “That’s what it’s all about.” The range staff faces some interesting challenges beyond individual training. The RSO must often call a “cease fire” due to camels that settle on the range behind the targets. After calling the cease fire and assuring that all weapons are clear of ammunition, a team assembles to go out and herd the animals into a safe zone.

By Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Jessica A. McIver, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Public Affairs “We’re lucky if we have an entire day where we don’t have to go out and move camels,” said Utilitesman 2nd Class Kelly Caponigro, serving as RSO for the day. Since NMCB 133 deployed two months ago the training department has put three battalions through various courses of fire including basic marksmanship training, and M-9 pistol qualification. When the battalion is in its homeport of Gulfport, Miss., the training office assists in handling unit training in other areas as well, including coordinating formal in-rate training schools and general military training. NMCB 133 continues to contribute to the war on terrorism by preparing Seabees for combat situations, so they are equipped with the skills to “build and fight.”

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