Cold Hard Facts
In NCO support forums, Social Media message boards, barracks rooms and team rooms there are Leaders sharing Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction and evaluation (PMI&E) products. These products miss critical information, they are not checked against doctrinal references, and usually not aligned with a Commanders training guidance. The block of instruction that follows is regurgitated like rote answers from the US Army Study Guide in a promotion board; no context, no measured evaluation and no performance assessment is gained.
In a vast majority of Units, Commanders guidance is not shared and not sought out by junior leaders responsible for developing their Soldiers. These same leaders do not know how to plan and resource training. The echoed excuse is always not enough time.
Imagine Junior Leaders that Led through the common language spoken by the Army, Doctrine. Imagine if they challenged their peers, subordinates and superiors to elevate their thinking. What if these Leaders could collaborate, develop and mentor others through discussion and product development that is shared at Army level? What if Junior Leaders could use experiential learning and professional education to inspire those they teach and lead? What if you knew that anyone in the Army could be empowered to learn institutional and operational knowledge by joining: https://www.milsuite.mil/book/groups/individual-weapons ?
The Integrated Weapons Training Strategy
In 2015 (Officially) the secretary of the Army signed Training Circular 3-20.0 (TC 3-20.0) The Integrated Weapons Training Strategy (IWTS). This document is the vehicle for Weapons training proficiency at every echelon.
Individual Weapons Table I, PMI&E is a pre-live fire requirement. It is the foundation for meeting the Leaders Intent for the employment of each individual weapon. It is used to frame concepts that build proficiency, shape individual Shot Processes, and build a growth mindset. PMI&E utilizes hands-on evaluation of demonstrated performance tasks. All participants must validate to perform specified critical tasks, and employ their weapon safely. Everyone must demonstrate tasks and skills through a written evaluation (Crawl). Table I is training through education. This training and education provide the skills and confidence that individuals need to perform and accomplish missions (TC 3-20.0). What does that mean to you? How do you successfully conduct a training event and transfer doctrinal knowledge?
The 8 Step Training Model
Training models do not provide sufficient detail to fully develop training events, or to coordinate training events. They ensure major activities and steps are accomplished. Training models help manage training events that are not complex in planning or execution. They are flexible, can be used as a checklist, and require minimal guidance to execute (FM 7-0).
To start you need to know the Jefe’s (Commanders) guidance. It is briefed and/or written after the decision-making process by their staff. Whoever the Event-planner is must ensure:
- Training & Evaluation Outlines (T&EOs) are collected to identify other supporting collective and individual tasks.
- An operational environment is selected to replicate.
- Verify the training venue (as live, virtual, or constructive) and lock in required resources (Safety, Classroom, Media, Training Aids, and Job Aids).
- Analyze organizational historical records as a starting point to identify testing resources. Check the Combined Arms Training Strategy (CATS), and T&EOs for required testing materials and training aids.
- Have the Operations Order with all necessary coordination for individual Weapons Qualification (Tables I-VI).
Step 1 – Plan
Go to TC 3-20.40 Individual Weapons Training and Qualification. There you will find a general PMI&E training plan that covers all optics, TC’s and Task numbers. This is not free information or the answer, it is the start point for planning the event. The TC contains the “how to” regulatory policy from Army Regulation 350-1, and should be used as a baseline for PMI&E. The key to step 1 is gathering the information your people need to be successful.
Backwards plan from the date of execution. This will allow a more realistic expectation of laying out the rest of the Training model steps for PMI&E.
Find competent people to assist you. These need to be experienced, knowledgeable, and reliable people that have a growth mindset. Rank does not equal expertise. Position does not equal experience. The event planner should be selected for their ability to know institutional doctrine, apply it operationally, and leave their Ego at the door.
Coordinate for the classroom or training site. Have an alternate site as a back-up. If you are using a computer have a back-up. If you are issuing handouts, have it reviewed using Technical Manuals, Training Circulars, or Tasks numbers associated with the training event. The best advice I was ever given is, “Do not assume anything. Go to your site as early as possible and see what you need. Make sure you test everything to include the electrical outlets.”. The planner should ensure that all training aids and course material are present at rehearsals to test their functionality and identify points of friction.
Prepare the Deliberate Risk Assessment Worksheet DD Form 2977 (DRAW). All the information to assess the initial risk and mitigate it through controls is in the Operations order. If you do not know how to write up a DRAW, DD Form 2977 has step by step instructions on the back (It is free and digital). Use the current and applicable Regulations/ Laws, Doctrinal manuals, and Training Circulars to assess the risk. Provide this DRAW to the Commander for approval and his recommendations after you have visited the site and alternate site. This will ensure three things:
1. You Lead by example and ensure you are fully aware of the risk, and the event details.
2. You build trust with the Commander through shared understanding and executing their intent.
3. You build trust with your Team through keeping them informed and providing them with the time and training they need to accomplish their mission.
Use a class structure. Here is an example of a simple PMI&E outline with performance steps and evaluation criteria. Implement the information from the training plan and specified information that pertains to your unit. This structure is laid out in a progressive and balanced methodology. (courtesy of TP).
Step 2 – Train and Certify Leaders
Develop your leaders through experiential learning. There are two components to consider:
First, we must develop leaders as part of every training event and ensure all training is led by trained and certified leaders.
Second, leaders must develop and train their Assistant Instructors and demonstrators. That means prioritize the development and training of leaders and never allow an untrained Leader to lead anything in training (ADP 7-0).
A Leader must be competent and perform. If the standard is 70%, the Leader should be a minimum 80%. As the leader you should train your assistant instructors and yourself to a higher level. An easy way to look at it is, if your event is a crawl event, your cadre and you should be at a walk.
Review (read) the references, doctrine, training circulars, technical manuals, and tasks. Never miss the opportunity to share the big picture of how Table I: individual weapons PMI&E fits into the training strategy. Evaluate your people and use those scores as a means of determining if your evaluation aligns with the objective. Take your Doctrinal references and specify the location of every answer in the evaluation. This will give the Commander a crosswalk of the evaluation, and points to sustain and/or improve.
Step 3 – Reconnoiter the Training Site
Never assume that you will have anything you asked for. Check the site as early as possible and bring area beautification supplies. If it is indoors, check the lights, power outlets, tables, chairs, and surrounding area.
Have an extra computer if using a classroom. Bring an extra power strip and extension cord. If you are outdoors, ensure that you have a covered area with a flat surface to write and stay out of the elements.
Identify emergency routes for MEDEVAC. Check phone signal and ensure that a secondary means of contacting Emergency Medical Services is available.
Step 4 – Issue the Event Operation Order
A simple 5 paragraph OPORD or a simple Concept of Operation with the 5 W’s will do. Remember that your event is part of a higher order. [See Attachment].
Step 5 – Rehearse
Rehearsals are critical to the execution of training, learning, and building expertise. All Leaders involved in the training event must conduct rehearsals to ensure understanding of content, preparation of testing sites, and set up/ break down. Leaders lead rehearsals to ensure that those responsible for the training are prepared.
Rehearsal should include possible questions or issues that participants may ask or material they may not understand. Use the training resources that will be used in the actual AAR to rehearse the AAR. Prioritize excellent performance and determine points of friction. Those points of friction should rehearse first.
Step 6 – Execute the Training
Record everything and do it for everyone. Take times, take video, keep tests, and secure it all on the Digital Training Management System and maintain the paper copies locally (Secure Personal Identifying Information IAW laws and policy).
Get accountability of every person and ensure they have everything they need to be successful and train. A method I am learning more about from my mentors and peers are QR codes and how they simplify data collection.
Step 7 – Conduct an After-Action Review (AAR)
Build an excel spreadsheet to determine averages for evaluations. The demonstration data will determine concurrent training. The written evaluation data will determine what concepts need to be reinforced verbally and hands-on. Share and distribute all data collected with your organization openly.
Input all data into Digital Training Management System (DTMS) for quick viewing by Leaders. This will establish a floor and ceiling of performance that can be compared in the future. Improve Training Content by identifying trends in the data and update in accordance with Commanders requirements.
Formal or Informal After Action Reviews are great tools. Ensure you have leading questions for them to work. Leave the ego at the door. Keep the focus on improvement, highlighting performance, and avoiding personalities friction. Ensure you do not become a therapist by framing questions that disregard personalities and focus on content, learning transfer, and information sequencing.
I am a fan of survey’s, they can be double edge swords in some settings. Surveys can be effective tools in helping to build up content and provide free outside perspective to the entire group. Individuals that use Surveys for personal agendas lack moral courage. Sadly, these folks will forget about the course and focus on a student or trainer. Usually these things can all go back to a bruised ego and a failure on both parties to communicate effectively.
Step 8 – Conduct Retraining
Use Blended Training Environments and Integrated Training Environments to enable units to assess and retrain students quickly at low cost (FM 7-0).
Students never depart PMI&E with tasks not trained to standard and training objectives not met, ever. That time should be built in, protected and it should not be revised or modified. That should be the standard. If the individual does not meet the PMI&E standard, they do not move forward in the strategy. Limited time, limited resources, and competing requirements cause Leaders to neglect retraining and it costs the Organization. I understand that the word “never” is absolute, and does not leave much room for exception. The word never is purposely used for one simple reason: failure at marksmanship means our people will go into harms way untrained. Failure is unacceptable to the Mothers, Fathers, Spouses, brothers, sisters, and children who entrust us with their lives.
Step 8 is often the most critical step in understanding and determining your Organizations PMI&E needs. PMI&E done to standard instills competency and confidence and ensures the organization develops task proficiency. Every member of an Organization assesses their Unit from different perspectives. Is your Organization meeting the standard or not?
The 8-Step Training Model is a great tool to ensure you hit your training event objectives and provide a Quality PMI&E. The Leaders ability to plan, resource, communicate, assess and gather information is critical to meeting the Commanders Guidance. PMI&E is where marksmanship starts, get off on the right foot with this model and apply it.
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