Keesler Security Forces Train With Machine Guns - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/07/03

Keesler Security Forces Train With Machine Guns

Keesler security forces spent the day Friday firing machine guns on the weapons range at Camp Shelby.

A dozen members of the 81st security forces squadron are training for possible deployment overseas.

Manuel Pina took aim at the enemy down field. His weapon is the M-60. It's a belt-fed, air-cooled, gas driven lightweight machine gun.

"A high volume of steady, continuous fire. It really keeps the enemy's head down," said arms training officer, Blaine Walter.

The training targets are a bit more resilient than a real life enemy. Rapid fire takes the green decoys down, but they bounce back up.

"Once you get the practice, it's pretty simple. It's fun," said Pina.

His partner says the gunner gets all the glory. But it takes teamwork to achieve efficiency with the M-60. A big part of the responsibility falls on the assistant gunner.

That's Donald Rapier's job.

"It is work when you're laying down here. He's got the easy job. All he's got to do is aim it and pull the trigger," he joked.

The assistant gunner takes care of the ammo and all the technical challenges. Without him, the trigger man can't do his job.

"Make sure nothing breaks on the gun. Make sure he gets on the target. Do his loads for him. His reloads. Move it up for him. Do the barrel changes and so on," said Rapier.

Qualifying on the weapon means mastering the technical skills and hitting the targets. Shooters take aim on individual points along with area coverage.

"A wide open area where you have suspected enemy. You want to cover that area, saturate it with fire," explained Walter.

The M-60 shoots up to 500 rounds a minute.

Manuel Pina says it's not hard to master the machine gun.

"You get used to it. It's pretty interesting. It's pretty fun," he said.

The security forces at Keesler are on alert for possible deployment overseas. Their primary mission would be air base defense. The M-60 machine gun is a standard issue weapon for such an assignment.

By Steve Phillips

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