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Soldiers to shoot more, stay longer in infantry school

The U.S. Army has changed the functions checks and immediate action drills for its M4 carbines and M16 rifles after discovering a flaw in many of the weapons. (COURTESY OF THE U.S. ARMY)

The Army will add two more months to infantry school, marking the biggest change to the institution in nearly a half-century in a move the service says is designed to develop a more lethal force.

In July, the Army will extend its one-station unit training from 14 to 22 weeks in a pilot program, so that new recruits will get more weapons and combat training, said Col. Townley R. Hedrick, the commandant of the Army Infantry School, told the Army’s internal news service on Monday.

Between July and October of 2019 the expanded course will be introduced throughout the infantry school, the Army said.

The decision to reform the Army’s training of infantry soldiers came after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis emphasized the need for a more combat-ready ground force.

Soldiers will train more with their M4 rifle, the M240 machine gun and the M249 squad automatic weapon, Hedrick said in a statement.

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“So across all the infantry weapons, they will get more bullets,” he said. “And they will also shoot more at night, rather than just doing a day familiarization fire.”

For 44 years, infantry school has been a 14-week program that dedicates 10 weeks to basic military training and four weeks to developing special infantry skills. Under the new program, soldiers will receive more field training experience to help them understand how to better maneuver as a squad and conduct day and nighttime operations, the Army said.

An individual day and night land navigation course has been added, which is expected to improve the “mental and physical toughness of soldiers,” Hedrick said.

Also, vehicle training has been extended from one day to a full week to ensure troops can handle their designated combat vehicle, whether it’s a Stryker or a Bradley.

More intensive specialty school training could also soon be on the way for the Army’s armor and engineer schools, which are conducting internal reviews on how to expand initial training, the Army said.

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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