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FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The U.S. Army has drawn up a sweeping
overhaul of how it will train Soldiers in using small arms -- rifles, pistols
and automatic rifles -- a revamp that adds tougher standards and
combat-like rigor to training and testing marksmanship.

The combat-oriented revamp replaces a training system that dates to
the Cold War era. It's geared to ensuring that every Soldier -- whether
in a combat job or not -- is trained from the start to not only hit targets
but to have the other basic "tactical" weapon skills needed for combat,
according to interviews with officials of the U.S. Army Infantry School at
Fort Benning, Georgia.

Those skills include Soldiers' ability to load, reload and otherwise handle
their weapons just as they'd have to in the blur and stress of combat.

The overhaul is spelled out in a new marksmanship manual titled
"TC 3-20.40, Training and Qualification-Individual Weapons."

Referred to informally as the "Dot-40," it runs to more than 800 pages
and contains four chapters and nine appendixes.

"It's exactly what we would do in a combat environment, and I think it's
just going to build a better shooter," said CSM Robert K. Fortenberry,
who currently oversees the Infantry School's marksmanship revamp
project and is the Infantry School's Sr enlisted leader.

The Dot-40 applies to the entire Army -- the active duty force, including
cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, as well as the Army
Reserve and National Guard. It covers four categories of what the Army
considers "individual" weapons: the rifle and carbine; pistol; the
automatic rifle; and sniper rifles.

It's meant as a standardized, one-stop-shop for all Army units to follow
in training their troops in individual weapons marksmanship.

And it applies to all Soldiers regardless of whether they're in combat
jobs -- Infantry and Armor, for example, or not -- a cook, a finance or
supply clerk, X-ray technician or a musician in an Army band.

It was developed at Fort Benning over a two-year span by staff of the
MCoE's Directorate of Training and Doctrine, and by the Infantry School,
as well as nearly 200 marksmanship experts drawn from across the Army,
including the Reserve and National Guard, officials said.

All units regardless of type will be held to the same tougher standards.
All will have to train their Soldiers in the same skills, and ensure they
schedule the same amount, type and frequency of marksmanship
training mandated by the Dot-40.

The Army will give itself a year to have the new methods take effect,
starting this October.

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Army overhauls small arms training with tougher standards
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Army overhauls small arms training with tougher standards