MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
The first West Coast recruits to be issued the Corps’ new service rifle, the M-16A4, fired the new weapons during their first week at the rifle range portion of recruit training located at Edson Range, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 19.
Every Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego company of recruits following Kilo will be issued and train with the M-16A4 service rifle.
“The (M-16)A4 is the weapon we use out in the fleet, so it is best that the recruits train with it as well as fight with it,” said Sgt. Ricardo Garcia, drill instructor, Platoon 3236. “Both weapons fire pretty much the same, but staying with the same kind of rifle should ease the transition from training to the fleet.”
The Corps has adopted the M-16A4 because of the adaptability of the weapons’ integrated rail system; which allows the use of a wide range of accessories like scopes and laser sights on today’s ever changing battlefield.
“Where we fight can change from the knife fight range of a house raid to a day’s long patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Martinez, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3235. “Throughout recruit training, we always say, ‘adapt and overcome,’ to our recruits, so it only makes sense for their gear to do so too.”
Recruits learn how to operate their weapons proficiently, but weapons-firing is only a small portion of recruit training. They must also learn how to carry their weapon like Marines and drill with them.
“The weapon is about a pound heavier so drilling with it, or just hiking around with it slung on your shoulder can be more difficult,” said Garcia. “The recruits will get conditioned to the heavier weight and have an easier time when they reach the School of Infantry where they have used (M-16)A4s for a while now.”
With new capabilities comes new training that must be incorporated into the recruits’ schedules.
“They are supposed to be given a class on how to make adjustments and aim through a scope, although we don’t know if they will get a chance to use it during recruit training,” said Garcia. “Even if they don’t get to use it here, they will be somewhat familiar with (the scope) so when they use it, they won’t be too excited and miss every shot because they think it’s like a video game.”
More important than new Marines receiving new gear is the way the Marine Corps is continually becoming a more efficient Machine.
“There’s a reason for all of this talk of easy transitions and adaptability,” said Martinez. “No one knows where or when the Marine Corps will fight its next big battle, however, we will continue to train and equip our Marines to be ready for any possible scenario.”
The older M-16A2s will be redistributed or destroyed after being sent to Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, Ga.