By Allison Kirschbaum

The U.S. Marine Corps is being prepared to use new high-tech tools to help them become more deadly shooters. The top leaders have shared a series of technologies in weapons training. This will make the Marines more accurate and realistic in training and combat. Further, this new initiative will also gather data about their performance and how they can improve. Chief of Staff for Education Command and Training, Col. Howard Hall even mentioned that a study made in 2018 showed that the Marines had only 30% of making lethal hits during combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. This includes moving and multiple targets with unknown distances.

A Deeper Analysis of the New Technology

At the Modern Day Marine Expo, Hall told the audience that the study had helped change the annual rifle qualification in 2021—also known as the first significant overhaul in a century. Switching fire from the 100-yard line and moving back to the 500-yard line to the reverse is one of the changes made with the new technology. It would start farther while moving closer to the target, as the U.S. Marine Corps would do in combat.

The qualification has also added quick drill fire at 25 yards, moving targets, barricade use, and an added shorter range.

The new technology that the U.S. Marine Corps is testing will aim to tighten shot groups, speed up shooting, and make it more lethal. To help more troops get accustomed to it, more drills, training options, and simulations will be organized. Other efforts to improve the corps' performance and adjust their shooting technique include real-time feedback and data collection.

The new technology package includes the Mantis X10 and Unit 4 equipment, which can be attached to the M27 or M4. This will allow the user to practice shooting, feel recoil, and use a laser without using live sounds. The new tools will quickly correct shooting techniques that the Marines never got from live practice shooting drills or “snap-in” barrels.

Marine Corps New Simulation Program

The snap-in barrel is just a barrel. Usually, it is an empty 55-gallon drum. Sometimes, the U.S. Marine Corps will even use a similar-sized item painted white, some of which will have a target shape used on the rifle range. The smaller shape will simulate the targets seen at a shooting range but at short distances. Marines then use those targets to dry fire to get the hang of their trigger control.

Commander of the weapons training battalion, Col. Gregory L. Jones even added that the digital snap-in barrel simulation would provide real-time feedback. Now, the Mantis system is being tested with the Marine Corps recruit depot shooting areas in Parris Island, South Carolina, and Edson Range at Camp Pendleton in California.

The assessment package uses either a tablet or smartphone, including an acoustics measuring device, a software application, and a smartwatch to monitor movement. The U.S. Marine Corps can now estimate their shooting range for their annual rifle qualification in the short-range portion from 25 yards. One thing that should be noted is that the assessment package can store and gather up to a company’s worth of data in under four hours, which is considered to be fast. It can even create plans to improve marksmanship based on the end results.

The Future of the Marines

Today, the U.S. Marine Corps is also considering a radar-based system that can measure distances from 500 yards to 100 yards for rifle qualification. If implemented, this would fully digitalize the file qualification. In September 2023, they gave an estimated $11.3 million contract to Valiant Global Defense Services, Inc. Subcontractor Conflict Kinetics owns the technology for the advanced small arms lethality trainer.

The simulation will aim to add more capabilities and scenarios to the indoor simulated marksmanship trainer. Advanced small arms lethality trainers will be held at all significant camps, including Camp Pendleton, California; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California; and Quantico, Virginia.

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