Six brigades’ Soldiers study weapons technology

By Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler/7th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office on January 31, 2013

The 7th Infantry Division hosted its first Weapons, Ammunition and Devices Symposium January 24 and 25, at various locations on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The first days of the symposium featured speakers and displays, while the second day afforded Soldiers a chance for more hands-on training at the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 and with a live-fire range.

Soldiers from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th brigades, 2nd Infantry Division; 16th Combat Aviation Brigade; 17th Fires Brigade and 555th Engineer Brigade participated in the weapons symposium, as well as Soldiers from Headquarters Support Company, 7th Inf. Div.

"We had approximately 150 Soldiers in the academic portion and 30 Soldiers for the EST and range," Lt. Col. Bruce Beyers, the 7th Inf. Div. chief of operations, said.

Aside from the Soldiers participating in the event, representatives from Aimpoint Inc., the Warfighter Ammunition Information Program, the Army National Guard Sniper School, and ELCAN Optical Technologies provided Soldiers with seminars about how their technologies are being employed on the battlefield.

Representatives from Program Executive Office Soldier were also on hand to talk to Soldiers and answer questions about the equipment. PEO Soldier is the Army acquisition agency responsible for nearly everything a Soldier wears or carries.

Beyers oversaw the training from its inception, and spent nearly four months ensuring every detail was in place so Soldiers were afforded the best weapons training possible to fulfill requirements established by Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, 7th Inf. Div. commanding general.

Lanza said he believes it's not about the patch each Soldier within the division wears, because they are all on the same team.

"We are building a ‘Team of Teams,'" Lanza said about the symposium.

The goal of the symposium was to develop professional leaders by educating them on the characteristics and capabilities of small arms weapons systems with the 7th Inf. Div., as well as to gain insight into the emerging weapon systems technologies, Beyers said.

"We want to spread resident knowledge of weapons, ammunition, and devices. We want (Soldiers) to know what (they) don't know about weapons systems - internal, external, and terminal ballistics," Beyers said. For one NCO, the symposium gave him a chance to see how much the Army has invested into the development of Soldier technologies.

"It has been wonderful. Seeing the optics and using them has been very eye opening," said Staff Sgt. David Irby, an Electronic Warfare NCO with 17th Fires Brigade. "It makes me confident of where the Army is going in technology."

Irby said the best part of the two-day event was the live-fire range, because he was able to put everything he learned about on day one into practical use.

"It's been one of the best ranges and classrooms I've done. Even Mother Nature participated - all sun, no rain," Irby said.

Beyers said a second iteration of the symposium is already in the planning stages, and he hopes to have another one following the return of the majority of Soldiers from 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.