“Screaming Eagles” Train On New NGSW Rifles

Members of the 101st Airborne recently completed classroom and live-fire exercises using the 6.8 mm-chambered, SIG Sauer-produced Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) rifles and their respective fire-control systems

The training, which took place at Fort Campbell, Ky.—where the unit is based—is an early step in the U.S. military’s rollout that is planned to ultimately retire the M4 and its variants as the standard-issue rifle for Army troops. The M4, along with the 5.56 NATO cartridge it chambers, will remain fielded by other units in the branch whose primary duties are considered support-related.

Select air assault and ranger units of the elite force participated in the sessions, which were designed to build familiarity and confidence with the new system, as well as garner feedback on the performance from the troops who will rely on them. The differences between the legacy M4s being replaced and the NGSW system were considerable, according to the soldiers.

“I’m used to the M4—it’s lighter—I’m used to the recoil, the engagements, everything the M4 has to offer,” SSGT Ivan Alvarez told Maj. Rodrick A. Polk, a U.S. Army test officer reporting on the exercise. “But, as we went through the LUT [Limited User Test] with the NGSW-R, I can see the capabilities that it brings to an infantryman, especially at a longer distance.”

Live-fire sessions were not limited to square ranges or known distances, either. They included operational tests, a big bonus according to Capt. Jordan Mares. “Being a part of the NGSW test absolutely supported our company readiness,” he said. “The LUT gave us opportunities to hone our craft, practice lessons learned with feedback from subject-matter experts, and the ability to conduct a lot of repetitions to practice small-unit tactics.”

SSGT Alvarez endorsed that observation, noting, “We got after a lot of training that we would normally have to said months to set up and accomplish.”

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