Air Force Featured Stories

Zeroing weapons, increasing defenders’ lethality

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron participated in firing live rounds for the first time in nearly four years at Al Dhafra Air Base, March 8.

The members used the method of “zeroing” their weapons – firing live rounds to ensure the accuracy as opposed to the method of bore sighting – a less reliable technique.

“Because (Al Dhafra AB) Security Forces is not authorized to bring their home station weapons, in-place weapons must be sighted for accuracy to the individual, known as ‘zeroing,’” said Master Sgt. Kurt Musson, 380th ESFS noncomissioned officer in charge of combat arms. “Without the access to a live-fire range, combat arms has had to use a method of bore sighting to adjust each individual weapon to the particular shooter. Bore sighting uses a laser within the rifle barrel to mimic the path of a projectile. While fairly accurate at short range, it is considerably inaccurate at full distance. The most accurate method of zeroing is live-fire.”

With this being the first time in years that Al Dhafra AB defenders can shoot at the range, they were gratified by this new achievement.

“It is daily business for me back home,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley Nendel, 380th ESFS amory NCOIC. “To see it completed and the opportunity afforded here at Al Dhafra AB where it didn’t previously exist, gives a true sense of accomplishment.”

This new capability is set to ensure Al Dhafra AB’s readiness not only to benefit the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, but the U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

“For now, the range will be used as a rotational zero-fire operation, eventually lending the opportunity for a full-scale Shoot, Move and Communicate course for defender proficiency,” Musson said. “When it comes to readiness, one main example comes to mind. Defenders often get forward deployed from this unit to other locations within AFCENT. Some locations may be viewed as higher threat locations, some not. Either way, they will be more prepared to fulfill whatever mission they’re given and can have confidence in the fact that their weapon system, if needed, will be accurate in the defense of their commander’s goals.”

Through the hard work of the members of the 380th ESFS Combat Arms team, other 380th AEW units, and the partnership between host nation, the defenders can now execute this critical training. This opportunity has given Al Dhafra AB’s defenders’ a better expectation of staying ready at a moment’s notice. This is all due to teamwork within the unit and the wing.

”The wing’s Weapons Safety Office, Master Sgt. James Ross, played a huge roll in this endeavor,” Musson said. “He and I spent a lot of time researching, planning and organizing to ensure we had a foolproof product to present to the wing commander. We completed a range inspection and risk assessment in order to define particular risk mitigation principles necessary for the commander’s approval and ultimately, AFCENT endorsement.”

With weapons literally going hand-in-hand with the defenders’ mission, members of Al Dhafra AB came together to increase the lethality of this dangerous crew.

“It feels great knowing that we have done our part to strengthen the mission of (Al Dhafra AB),” Musson said. “It also feels amazing to know that through this effort, which was more than just combat arms, it also included the 577th (Expeditionary Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers) Squadron, Weapons Safety and 380th Medical Group Bioenvironmental, we are able to give all defenders the confidence in their most important tool, their weapon.”