More live firing drills for prospective armoured infantry soldiers

More live firing drills for prospective armoured infantry soldiers

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Unsuspecting enemy shooters are approaching the positions of the armoured infantry forces. There is tension in the air, disrupted by a sudden loud whistle, followed by fire coming from the positions. The armoured infantry section leader is reporting via his radio: “Made contact with the enemy, enemy shooters engaged by surprise fire.”

A soldier is kneeling in cover with an antitank weapon on his shoulder.

During their advanced individual training, the soldiers learn important capabilities of the armoured infantry such as the operational procedures of an armour killer team.

Bundeswehr/Maximilian Schulz

This combat situation describes one potential operational scenario of armoured infantry forces during security tasks. However, instead of real combat, the soldiers are taking part in an exercise at the end of their advanced individual training, which is an important milestone on their path to becoming armoured infantry soldiers.

New training concept

Soldiers are standing around a terrain sand table; the officer in charge is standing in front of them.

Following the section-level live fire exercise, Captain Daniel Carstens, officer in charge of the advanced individual training, is discussing the performance shown during the exercise together with the soldiers.

Bundeswehr/Maximilian Schulz

At Klietz major training area, young infantry soldiers are completing a section-level live fire exercise. The event also marks the end of their three-months advanced individual training. Among the participants, there are junior enlisted soldiers, NCO candidates and officer candidates. “The advanced individual training is the first training segment that provides the soldiers with branch-specific training. Since October, the new Troop Training Directive (Anweisung der Truppenausbildung, AnTra 2) has been in force. It includes a new concept for the training of armoured infantry soldiers”, explains Captain Daniel Carstens, officer in charge of the advanced individual training. The instructors of 4 Company, 371 Armoured Infantry Battalion are tasked with imparting important knowledge and capabilities to the soldiers regarding the weapons and weapon systems of the armoured infantry forces as well as combat training.

The new concept requires the soldiers to receive billet-specific training already during advanced initial training. This means that, other than a gunner for example, armoured infantry soldiers receive training only related to their assignment. “As AnTra 2 has not yet been synchronised with branch-specific doctrine, the instructors are facing considerable challenges. The regulation now requires, among other things, an increased number of practice firing exercises that the soldiers must have completed in order to be allowed to participate in the firing exercises required by AnTra 2”, Carstens moves on to explain. This leads to an increased number of training hours, while the duration of the training course remains the same. This is very challenging for all soldiers, both instructors and participants.

A variety of ranks

Soldiers are lying side by side, firing their rifles.

During their stay at the Klietz major training area, the prospective armoured infantry soldiers learn to handle the MG5 machine gun as part of a firing drill.

Bundeswehr/Maximilian Schulz

Private (Officer Candidate) Marc Fenchel, who is one of almost 30 participants in the branch-specific training, says: “In contrast to the ‘normal’ basic training, the focus here is on combat and marksmanship training. The instructors organise this training very well. In order to convey all important training contents, many hours of overtime are necessary. But we support one another.”

The participants of the advanced individual training come from a variety of backgrounds. Apart from different ranks, some of the young infantry soldiers even have experience from previous longer terms of service. Some soldiers move on to the advanced individual training right after their basic training while others complete it following a career change or a change in assignment. “In the summer of 2020, the Officer Training in the Army was revised. The Officer Candidate Battalions have been disbanded and the responsibility for the training of the officer candidates was again handed over to the units”, Carstens explains in more detail. This is to convey a sense of belonging to the young soldiers from the very beginning; they are to identify themselves with their unit and respective branch from the first day.

Tools of the armoured infantry

Soldiers are firing from their positions. An armoured vehicle has moved into position behind them.

The armoured infantry section’s fire fight is reinforced with the Marder armoured infantry fighting vehicle in order to destroy armoured enemy forces.

Bundeswehr/Maximilian Schulz

During advanced individual training, participants learn to handle the basic tools of the armoured infantry. To achieve this, Alpha Platoon of 4 Company has provided weapons and equipment training to the young soldiers during the first few weeks, followed by firing exercises at close range – at their home station in Marienberg in Saxony. The training at Klietz major training area now includes additional training contents. Particular emphasis is placed on marksmanship training at long ranges and on firing drills. “Among other things, we train the soldiers by conducting firing drills with the MG5 machine gun. If the section is carrying out a defence operation, the machine gun is their heavy weapon, and it is the main source of firepower for the dismounted section”, explains Sergeant Hannes R*, instructor with 4 Company. Typical weapons of the armoured infantry also include the Panzerfaust 3 antitank weapon and the grenade launcher. Again and again, the instructors train the soldiers in the handling of these weapons. “Drill-type training is important because the participants need to know their weapons by heart in order to be able to use them appropriately in combat”, says R.

On the firing range in Klietz, the advanced individual training reaches its peak and, at the same time, comes to an end. During the section-level live fire exercise, the soldiers have to put their acquired knowledge into practice as far as tactics and procedures in the positions are concerned. Before the eyes of their instructors, they demonstrate their firing capabilities and how they handle the weapons and weapon systems. “It is an absolute highlight to fight in the section and with the Marder armoured infantry fighting vehicle”, explains Private (Officer Candidate) Fenchel. During the advanced individual training, the future armoured infantry soldiers have become familiar with the fundamentals of their branch’s main weapon system, the Marder armoured infantry fighting vehicle. “The constant change in the method of fighting with the Marder armoured infantry fighting vehicle, that means between mounted and dismounted combat (on the armoured vehicle or on foot, respectively) is physically very exhausting over longer periods of time, but it was nonetheless a lot of fun”, Fenchel concludes.

Will to win

A soldier stands in his position with an antitank weapon next to him. The field in front of him has been fogged.

During the section-level live fire exercise, the instructors throw smoke pots to simulate an enemy attack.

Bundeswehr/Maximilian Schulz

Each and every day, the participants of the advanced individual training are reminded of how important it is to be physically fit as an armoured infantry soldier. The dynamic, dismounted combat before and after the short resting periods on the Marder armoured infantry fighting vehicle presents a severe physical strain. “It is important that the participants are willing to go to their limits since otherwise their bodies will prevail over their resolve and willingness to achieve their goals”, explains Carstens. “Motivation and commitment are the basic prerequisites for every soldier who wants to be employed within the combat forces.”

At the end of the section-level live fire exercise, the officer in charge of the advanced individual training sums up as follows: “Overall I am satisfied with the performance of the young soldiers. Despite the short training period compared to the large number of training contents, everyone always gave their best.” For the participants, the time has come to say goodbye, as they will now go separate ways. Private (Officer Candidate) Fenchel and the other officer candidates move on to the Probationary Officer Cadet Course in Munster in January, which lasts several weeks. The NCO candidates and junior enlisted soldiers, too, are going to take part in further assignment-related training and will visit training courses. Yet in spite of their separate ways, the young infantry soldiers all share the same goal: They want to become fully trained armoured infantry soldiers.

* Name changed for editorial reasons

by Elisabeth Rabe