The U.S. Navy introduces its sailors to combat training during boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. All recruits are taught how to maintain and fire the M9 pistol and the Mossberg 500 shotgun. They used to qualify on the M16A2 rifle, but the practice was discontinued. Many sailors will go on to have more extensive combat training.
The Navy's Sea, Air, Land special warfare operators are highly trained combat troops. In addition to boat handling and swimming, the SEALs learn hand-to-hand combat, small unit tactics and airborne operations. They are taught to use a range of weapons, including pistols, rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers and mortars. SEALs are also trained to use explosives to destroy barriers, obstacles and enemy personnel.
Navy pilots have to be able to land their planes on a small patch of flight deck in the dark. Navy pilots train for air-to-air combat to engage enemy fighter planes with missiles and guns. Since Sept. 11, 2001, Navy pilots have had to put more emphasis on their ground attack role to support Marine and Army troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bombing runs against enemy positions are a common engagement for today's Navy pilots.
The Navy plies the world's oceans with its fleet of aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines. These ships, along with many supporting units, train together to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of each. For example, the carriers constantly train to launch and recover fighter planes, but are vulnerable to missile attack. One of the combat missions submarines and destroyers train for is protection of the carriers.
Missiles and Guns
Modern naval weapons employ complex technology. Much of the training that sailors receive for the use of ship board missiles and guns involves simulations and war games. Conventional target practice remains for guns such as the Mark 45 Light Gun System.
Afghanistan is a land-locked country so the Navy has found itself modifying its training priorities. Navy Individual Augmentee troops are sent to Afghanistan to fill a variety of roles, such as supply construction specialists. The tactical situation demands these sailors know how to defend themselves. The Army has set up a joint training program at Fort Jackson where sailors are trained in convoy operations, base security and urban combat. These sailors did not qualify on the M16A2 rifle in boot camp, but will do so as part of this training.
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