CRANE, Ind. (NNS) -- Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC Crane) has been training the warfighter in operations and maintenance courses for small arms weapons used by the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community for nearly 10 years.
By addressing major issues warfighters had concerning the care and maintenance of weapons, NSWC Crane's weapons experts have served as the go-to source for small arms and weapons training.
Weapons used to fight the war on terrorism have a projected life expectancy that is reduced by damage or prolonged use. In the past, maintenance levels may not have met the warfighters' needs to keep their weapons mission-ready and repairs were costly.
"We did a study at NSWC Crane to change the maintenance authority on these weapons," said Ron Webster, joint forces training and support director. "We responded to the warfighters' needs by developing an 'Enhanced Operations and Maintenance Course.' This course came about due to the lack of formal small arms training within the Navy and NSW."
Completion of this course provided the warfighter with enhanced organizational level maintenance training on all small arms and gun mounts fielded by NSW. The course taught the necessary skills needed to conduct preventative and limited corrective maintenance on small arms and gun mounts.
By 2004, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) saw a need to increase weapons operational availability and asked NSWC Crane to develop a joint training program. This joint program was designed to support special operation forces (SOF) weapons and the special operations peculiar modification equipment that is used on these weapons.
"The program consists of two areas," said Webster. "The USSOCOM Joint Armorer's Course and the Program Executive Office SOF Warrior Fielding Training Team (FTT), both which began in 2005."
According to Webster, the Joint Armorer's Course was designed around the feedback from the initial NSW course, but used the existing curriculum for the same weapons. "This course was originally designed to educate users about SOF weapons and complimentary SOPMOD equipment."
This two-week long course includes training on service-common weapons but the course changes as weapons are added or deleted within the SOF inventory. All courses consist of hands-on practical training. The warfighter learns how to dismantle, repair, clean and refurbish weapons. Other topics taught include logistics; weapon nomenclature and description; cycle of operation; gauging procedures; reassembly safety and function check; and SOPMOD interoperability. The SOF weapons covered in the course include MK23 pistol; MK 11, MK12 and MK13 sniper rifles; MK46 and MK 48 machine guns; and MK47 grenade machine gun.
At the end of the course, there is a written test and a critique of the course. "We take the warfighters' recommendations to the sponsor where we can update or modify the course," said Webster.
"The FTT is a 12-person deployable unit that is on the road 30 weeks out of the year providing new equipment training on SOF weapons and accessories," Webster continued. "This team has proven to be a huge success for USSOCOM in teaching soldiers the difference between SOF gear and Army gear, as well as the proper logistics support for SOF."
Webster says that the FTT has increased operational and mission readiness by turning in more than $1.5 million in broken equipment through either repair or replacement.
NSWC Crane also trains other areas within DoD, including the Department of Energy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. By the end of the year, the British Special Air Service will be added to that list.
"Due to the expertise here with small arms training and the ability to tailor training to meet specific needs of the Warfighter, NSWC Crane has become valuable to many of the services throughout the DoD," said Webster.
For more news from Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, www.navy.mil/local/crane/.