Army approves plan to build new facility at Hawthorne by 2025.
By Steve Ranson / Nevada News Group
The Nevada National Guard is expected to have a small arms training range built at the Hawthorne Army Depot by fiscal year 2025, Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen recently announced.
The Democratic senator, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. Army will implement plans this year to construct an approved range at the sprawling military installation 70 miles south of Fallon.
Originally, the National Guard Bureau announced a new small arms range would not be ready until 2030 at the earliest. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in May, Rosen approached Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff General James McConville. Both Wormuth and McConville were unaware of the training problems affecting the Nevada National Guard and small arms training.
“When I found out our soldiers had to travel hundreds of miles out of state to train, I knew we had to do something to fix this,” Rosen said. “The financial cost to transport soldiers out of state far exceeds the cost of building a range in-state, and I am pleased the Army is following through on its commitment to me to do so.”
Rosen said the average cost of a unit to travel out of state for its weapons training has been a half-million dollars. In order to meet annual weapons qualifications, soldiers and airmen have traveled to bases in California, Arizona, Utah and Arizona to receive their specialized training with the M-16 and M-4 rifles and M-9 pistols.
“Now, our soldiers will be able to meet their annual requirements in Nevada, at greater convenience to them and at a lower cost to taxpayers,” Rosen said.
The Army revamped its training in 2019 for soldiers using small arms and added tougher standards and “combat-like rigor” to test marksmanship.
According to the Nevada Guard, “Army standards for marksmanship qualification now demand a ‘pop-up’ range with targets that move up, down and back down during a soldier’s qualification.”
The Nevada National Guard had previously traveled 30 miles south of Fallon to the U.S. Navy’s Bravo-19 range, but because of increased training directed by the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC), the Guard was unable to complete their marksmanship training.
Both the Navy and Nevada National Guard constructed the range together in the early 2000s.
“The Navy takes priority over the Guard to an extent,” said Zip Upham, public affairs officer for Naval Air Station Fallon.
Upham said NAWDC has been conducting more air-to-ground training on Bravo 19, thus necessitating frequent closures of the small arms range because of safety. He said Bravo 16, a range southwest of Fallon used for SEALS (Sea, Air and Land teams) training, wouldn’t work for the National Guard either because of Navy training requirements.
Major General Ondra Berry, Nevada’s Adjutant General, said, in a statement accompanying Rosen’s media release, the range has been a priority.
“This range will play an integral role maintaining standards, requirements, and proficiencies of our soldiers in the Nevada Army National Guard, ensuring our men and women are trained and prepared for overseas deployments,” Berry said.