Army trainers at Fort Lee, Va., will soon have a dedicated area to teach and rehearse grenade-tossing skills as part of the Combined Arms Support Command mission to hone the warfighting prowess of advanced individual training Soldiers so they are fully capable when they arrive at their first duty station.
The practice grenade range is under construction at Training Area 18 along C Avenue, adjacent to the Regimental Community Center. The complex is roughly 80-percent complete and is expected to receive its first students in a few weeks, according to Sgt. Maj. LaQuaine Bess, S3, 59th Ordnance Brigade.
“This will be a great addition to the training we are currently conducting,” he said. “Reinforcement of combat skills is something that really supports commanders out in the operational force. They will receive Soldiers who are ready and deployable and able to become combat multipliers as soon as they arrive at their gaining units.”
Consisting of a grenade familiarization range and qualification course, the new resource will provide reinforcement instruction for skills acquired in basic training, said Bess, and support the readiness initiatives of the Training and Doctrine Command.
“The project was initiated by the Ordnance School based on the guidance of Gen. (Stephen J.) Townsend, (TRADOC commanding general),” he said, referring to Townsend’s “warriorization” strategy. “It identifies the need for Soldiers to train on grenade ranges and potentially earn grenade qualification badges.”
Three lanes with the capability to accommodate 20-30 Soldiers will comprise the familiarization course. It will feed student participants into the qualification course portion, which features seven lanes.
The brigade is still working details on its ability to award grenade qualification badges, with the key factor being the limitations to simulated grenade usage only. No live grenades will be used at the range, Bess said.
More than 3,000 Soldiers per year are expected to undergo grenade training at the new complex, Bess estimated. He also noted the training is not part of the brigade’s three-day culmination exercise, dubbed ODX, which occurs approximately two weeks before students graduate. Grenade training will instead be conducted over the course of varying training cycles based on availability.
Plans for the grenade complex were made in conjunction with Range Control, Bess said. Construction began in November and required the clearing of overgrown brush. In addition, an aging, unused confidence course was removed to accommodate the new training facility. Most of the work is being performed by Ordnance personnel.
The Ord. School is headquartered at Fort Lee but operates training sites at several locations around the country. It graduates roughly 140,000 Advanced Individual Training students annually.