Field firing - Do the US do it?

Just come back form an ex with the Texas NG in Ft Hood. Had a fantastic time and was really impressed with the professionalism and skills of the TxANG lads. But one thing came out in conversation with their infantry bods that perplexed me: They has NEVER done dismounted field firing.

Is this something that the US Army just dosen't do? I know their ranges are MUCH stricter than ours (to the extent that one of our small arms instructors was heard to comment that he was suprised that the US soldiers had any confidence in their weapon systems). If so does that mean that the first time US soldiers fire live on anything other than a static range is when it all gets a bit scary on ops?

NB I'm not aiming to Yank-bash in any way, shape or form. I have huge respect for the US Army and especially the TxANG who showed us a fantastic time in October and pulled out every possible stop to make sure that we had a truly excellent excercise.

By Dismounted Field Firing, do you mean Infantry Fire & Manuever Live Firing? (Sqd/Plt. LFX's?)

I know that I've participated in Numerous Live Fire excercises from Individual level to Company, Including CALFEX's(Combined Arms Live Fire Ex) using A-10's, F-16's, 155mm Arty, Mortars, etc. all while we Manuevered "Downrange" to the Objective.

I've served as an RSO at Ft. Drum Ft. Hood, Ft. Campbell, Ft. Dix, Ft. Indiantown Gap,etc. for several such Ex's as well. Fort Hood, has Numerous Ranges designed for just that type of Training(I used some in June 2004 there), including a very good MOUT Village range, LFX range. North Ft. Hood even has several areas for that type of training. The NRA was teaching the SDM (Squad designated Marksmans) training while we were there.

The Possibility exists that either;

A- this unit is all dicked up(not Unheard of),
B- that due to being at a Lower priority for resources they didnt get the Ammo allocation needed.

An Example, because my Bn. served 1 day on Active Duty in Fiscal Year 2006, Our Training budget was Gutted by the State for the whole fiscal year(which is crap) . Those training dollars were given to other units who werent deploying.
Yakima Firing Centre in Washington State has a Multi-Purpose Range Complex (MPRC) designed to be used either as an IBSR for tanks or as a maneouvre range for dismounted infantry up to Company Group level.

When on PRT for Ex Trumpet Dance I saw US units doing field firing here and at Ft. Lewis, but the procedure was very strange - explanation using a sand-table, walkthrough on the range, blank rehearsal until the correct standard was reached and only then doing the same range live.

I don't know how representative of the Army as a whole this is, but a (Regular) First Sergeant I spoke to seemed amazed we'd let troops rock onto a range they'd never seen before and start chucking metal and bangs about.
Safety, safety, safety. Nothing will hurt a commanders career like a live fire accident. If you have ever seen the BUDs video the students trained for 10 hours prior to a live fire exercise.
Until recently i was under the impression they didn't do it as those i had spoken to hadn't. However an arrser corrected me so i checked up and yes they do.

So i'll consider my hat eaten.

However i think the safety margins far outweigh ours. "Not a bad thing" you might say. But War is a dangerous buisness so training for war needs to have an element of that danger otherwise why bother.

It is also unpredictable. So i fail to see the point in sending the same troops up and down the same range in a rehearsed attack. The first field firing range i did at section level was only about 750 metres long. But the shock and adreniline rush that came with figure 11's popping up anywhere between 200 to 5 metres infront of you, Batsims blowing up like in coming mortars and strafing fire couldn't and shouldn't be exchanged for anything.

As my old Sgt Major used to say "Spice it up a bit"
I did several live fire ex's during my time in uniform. No surprise as I was an Infantryman.

I have to think that National Guard units often lack facilities for such though. I've heard my brother in law complain many times about the
difficulty of finding facilities for annual weapons qualification. Mind you, this was in a large city even.
wessex_warrior said:
That's very reassuring. What sort of frequency do your lads do LFX's then? our TA inf boys do section level in continuation and at least once a year thereafter.
I left the Army in '89 so I can't say what happens now but we did one towards the end of OSUT and about two or three a year with the unit. I recall doing three in a six month period but that was because we were deployed to Sinai, Egypt with the MFO. Needless to say, there were ample areas in which to train. I also recall doing four during the year I was stationed in Korea. Once again, ample training areas. Plus, two of those were in prep training for the DMZ mission.
Tomahawk pretty much has it nailed. That, and 'passes' look so much better on a Powerpoint slide than 'fails', for the purposes of the commander's evaluation. Doubtless some of the high-speed units do blind field firings, but not many.

Hence we went wild in Iraq. We set up our own, unevaluated, ranges, and did stuff that would have us thrown off the range in the US in nothing seconds flat.

Some of the 'safety' obsessiveness has been dropped just a tad in favour of practicality recently. You still don't want an accident, but they're trying to get the troops to rely on themselves a bit more instead of being spoon-fed instructions.

The tyre house at Ft Lewis certainly highlighted a weakness in our drills when my grenadier threw an L2 into a room and decided to try and follow it in straight away - luckily I managed to grab hold of his webbing and pull him back before it went off - I put it down to excitement!!!!!
Spent some time at 29 Palms with the USMC and they did boat loads (excuse the pun) of Field Firing. They also conducted a lot of combined arms live firing. The safety staff were few and far between too (in comparison to ours in BATUS) and the 29 Palms based safety/training guys I spoke to spent over 7 months a year out in the desert supervising.
The accommodation? wasn't great for the exercising troops either, kind of wooden roof type double lean to's with a gap at the bottom to let the snakes out!
The stuff I watched them do was pretty good.
I'd add that in active-duty live fire excersises were an annual event at the very least on Ft Bragg (we weren't infantry). As a reservist the only live LFX we did was prior to deployment to Iraq.

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