Volume 30, Number 1

150th Trains with SAWs
Photos and story by Spc. James Pernol, Det. 1, 444th MPAD

Spc. Lisa Easley (left), 150th AG Detachment, receives a safety briefing from Sgt. Joseph Thorpe (right) before heading to the firing line with her M-249.
With the war of the future upon the world today, it is not just infantry units fighting the ground war. That is why Capt. Michael Bobinis, commander of the 150th AG Detachment of the New Jersey National Guard, mobilized at Fort Dix in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, believes it is necessary for his troops to qualify on the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).

"There is nothing saying that we can’t be deployed forward,” stated Capt. Bobinis. “That’s why we’re doing this training now. If we need to use this weapon in the future we will be able to.” With this type of training, units like the 150th, and other support units going overseas now or in the future, will be better able to defend themselves.

Some might see crew-served weapons such as the M-249 as an infantry squad weapon, but in the broad scheme, any unit today can find itself in battle, and may need the added firepower to suppress the enemy.

Sgt. Joseph Thorpe (front) and Capt. Michael Bobinis (back) zero their M-249s on the firing range at Fort Dix.
“In our unit we have four SAWs and they’re used for basic unit defense,” explained Capt. Bobinis. The SAWs’ primary function is a hand-held combat machine gun. It can be fired from the kneeling, prone or the hip position at a target up to 1000 meters away.

Although it is unlikely that the 150th will deploy overseas, Bobinis is taking no chances. “This is the most important weapon we have in the unit,” said Capt. Bobinis. “It's good training for us, and it’s a good change of pace.”