A Nevada Army National Guard unit is getting unique training before heading to Iraq. About 150 members of the Reno-based 593rd Transportation Co. are learning to shoot and drive at the same time.
"You would have never thought about doing this five years
ago," Capt. Amadeo Flores, the company commander, said Thursday as
his soldiers practiced the difficult technique in a remote area of
the sprawling Army Ammunition Depot in Hawthorne, 130 south of
But officials say the training is needed because in Iraq, supply
convoys are often targets for insurgents.
The 593rd is the first Nevada guard unit to receive such
training. The company will leave for Iraq after several months of
additional training at Fort Bliss, Texas, starting July 7. Initial
practice at Hawthorne started Tuesday and ends Sunday.
"There is no front line," Maj. Kevin Korcheck, who is in
charge of the training, said of fighting in Iraq. "All soldiers
are being engaged in combat."
Convoys are protected by soldiers in armored escort vehicles.
But the Army wants drivers and passengers in truck cabs to be able
to shoot with reasonable accuracy while traveling at 55 to 60 mph.
It's what the Army calls "suppression" fire, enough to make
insurgents stop shooting and seek cover.
"It's not hard to shoot," said Sgt. Shawn Christiance of Elko.
"It's hard to hit what you're shooting at."
In the northern Nevada desert, tractor-trailer cabs the company
will use in Iraq were driven at slow speeds, 5 to 10 mph, past
clusters of makeshift targets, with the drivers, then passengers,
shooting M-16 rifles from distances of 50 and 250 yards.
"This is the basic building block," Korcheck said. "Most
people have not engaged automatic weapons out of a moving
Speeds will increase at Fort Bliss and get even faster during
final training in Kuwait, the last stop before Iraq.
Truck passengers can aim and fire. For drivers, it's a little
The rifle is positioned so it rests in the crook of a driver's
left arm, pointing out the left window. Drivers keep their left
hands on the wheel and fire with their right.
"It's a pretty difficult task," said Spc. Michael Gutierrez of
Las Vegas. "To pay attention to the road, hang on to the wheel and
shoot, all at the same time. I don't know what I hit."