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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)

Camp Lemonnier Cuts Ribbon on New Virtual Range

by Lt. j.g. Brittany Crocker
19 December 2023 CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti, (November 18, 2023) -- When Marine Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 11 sailors found an uninstalled virtual range kit in their spaces at Camp Lemonnier, they saw an opportunity.

The system still had the tag on it, and had been awaiting installation since a previous MSRON unit rotation had ordered it.

Camp Lemonnier enables operations for 38 tenant commands in the region, many of whom have annual weapons qualification and training requirements. But, logistical challenges can limit access to traditional ranges. The discovery came at an opportune time.

"We still needed a place to hone our skills and do weapons training, not just for the Navy, but for all the tenant commands on board Camp Lemonnier," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Eric Taylor, comptroller department head for MSRON 11, a Camp Lemonnier tenant that provides port security.

GM1 Rigoberto Lopez, MSRON 11's armory lead petty officer, was familiar with the virtual weapons training system, so he started an inventory. Meanwhile, Taylor reached out to the maker to get it certified and installed.

"I have some familiarity with the system because I've used it before," Lopez said. "A field service representative provided initial training on system operation and calibration," Lopez said. Now I know what it takes to keep it running 100%."

The new virtual range officially opened on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and live demonstrations.

"Opening this virtual range at Camp Lemonnier bolsters our mission-readiness," said Camp Lemonnier Commanding Officer, U.S. Navy Capt. Suzanne Krauss, "This is the story of a unit with a goal, and they accomplished it. I'm thankful for MSRON-11 for pushing forward to add this valuable asset for our personnel and our tenants."

Before the ribbon-cutting, a group of MSRON 11 sailors participated in a "Train the Trainer" course on the system, so they can pass its operation along to the unit that relieves them.

"My goal for our unit when we go anywhere is to leave the place better than we found it," Taylor said. "By getting this range up and running, we're making sure that happens."

Service members can use the new virtual range to train and perform annual qualification tests on an array of weapons systems, including M9, M240-B, M240 and M2A1 .50 caliber.

"This unique system allows us to keep service member qualifications up to date, while pushing forward on overall warfighter readiness," said Capt. Stephen Oraker, MSRON 11 Mission Commander. "This system can take an average shooter and push them to perform at a higher caliber. I'm proud of my unit for turning an empty space into something that has a lasting, positive impact on Camp Lemonnier, and every service member that comes here."