by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jamin Gordon
USS George Washington (CVN 73)
November 8, 2018
The three-week Basic Security Reaction Force training (SRF-B) course continued as Sailors from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) in training class ‘Top Gun’ took part in weapons training at the Cheatham Annex shooting range, in July 2018.
The second phase of SRF-B gave Sailors an opportunity to familiarize themselves with different platforms of firearms while gaining hands-on experience.
“This phase qualifies them with the weapons that they will be using while they’re TAD (temporary additional duty) to security,” said Master-At-Arms 1st Class Susan Olander, George Washington’s Security department training leading petty officer. “It will teach them the fundamentals of how to operate the weapons, and the final day is test day and the range. Today they will qualify with the Beretta M9 pistol and the M4 Carbine. Once they get into Security, we’ll run another class with them on the M240 and take them out and we’ll do the 240 machine gun range.”
Before Sailors are able to fire weapons on the range, they are taught safety procedures and tested on their basic knowledge of the weapon’s functions.
“Before they get on the range and shoot they’re taught the fundamentals of the weapon,” said Olander. “They’re taught the course of fire, the chambering actions and all the mechanisms working inside the weapon itself. They’re taught how to handle malfunctions and stoppages themselves while on the range because in the real world they’re not going to have a line coach. We teach for accuracy and score, but we also teach for real-life situations that could actually happen.”
Sailors receive rudimentary weapons training while in basic training, but the second phase of SRF-B goes more in depth and acts as a refresher to those who have not handled a firearm for an extended time.
“I shot in boot camp, but I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot since then,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Arnaldo Garciadelgado. “It was really fun and it’s always good to get some experience. Pretty much everything we learned in boot camp was used today. I feel like coming to the range and getting some trigger time will help to prepare me in the event that something goes down while I’m in security, especially since I didn’t have a lot of experience shooting. Any experience I can get helps. This was definitely better than getting OC (oleoresin capsicum) sprayed, that’s for sure.”
Security personnel receiving proper training is essential to the safety of the ship and its Sailors. Armed sentries are the ship’s first line of defense and the immediate response to an attack.
“It’s extremely important to have our security force weapon trained,” said Olander. “Proper fundamentals and proper utilization of the weapon is one of the most important aspects of security department world-wide. A sentry’s weapon is their end-all. In the event that they actually have to use their weapon, they have to be able to articulate what to do and how to do it. They’ll have to remember the training they received and how to use their weapon properly to protect themselves and protect the ship without using excessive force.”
As class ‘Top Gun’ progressed through the SRF-B course, the training they received better prepared them for their time in Security department. The next phase of the course involved tactical room clearing, hand-to-hand combat training.