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Lance Cpl. Matthew Ross, a machine gunner and student at the Advanced Machine Gunner Course, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion-East, performs “burpees” in the mud as part of physical training during AMGC, aboard Camp Geiger, N.C., April 20, 2015. The goal of physical training throughout this course is to push the students past their limits to build a strong mind and body.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Olivia McDonald

Back to basics; Machine gunners hone skills at AMGC

21 Apr 2015 | Lance Cpl. Olivia McDonald The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

The sun begins to peak through the tree line as the Marines with the Advanced Machine Gunners Course start week two with some muddy physical training. 

Marines from various units with the Advance Machine Gunners Course, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion-East, conducted a physical training exercise to start their day during AMGC, aboard Camp Geiger, North Carolina, April 20, 2015.

It is only the beginning of the course and the machine gunners are showing their instructors they are prepared to work hard, already making significant strides.

“In this PT session you can really see it. It’s only week two and they’ve come together,” said Sgt. Michael Cucinotta, a combat instructor with AMGC, Advanced Infantry Training Battalion-East. “They are learning to work together, that networking skill, and that’s what you want to see.” 

Throughout the course, students will fine-tune and develop their skills in their occupational specialty to become a better asset to their units when they return.

“I hope to gain more confidence in my job skills, just basic knowledge about employing the weapons system itself,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher Chandler, a student at AMGC. “I want to be able to use this confidence and knowledge to teach junior Marines when they come to my unit.”

It’s back to the basics for the Marines during the first part of the course. The students are reintroduced to some of the fundamental skills learned at the School of Infantry, such as land navigation, before anything new is introduced. 

“At first you learn more about yourself,” Chandler said. “It really pin points your weaknesses and pushes you to make them better.”

Being a combat instructor with AITB-E for 3 years, Cucinotta says the course reminds the Marines to not use short cuts.

“If you create short cuts bad things happen, if you know the doctrinal way of doing things, you can never go wrong,” Cucinotta said. “It’s just a good way of doing business.”

The Marines train a wide spectrum of skills from offensive and defensive employment of different weapon systems to urban operations. 

“One of the biggest challenges for the students can be mental,” Cucinotta said. “This course pushes boundaries. Some of them think they’re not smart enough, but they really are. Some think they’re weak, but they’re not.”

With much more to be learned, the students are expected to graduate from AMGC in late May. Upon graduation, the Marines will have the technical and tactical proficiency necessary to be better assets to their units when they return.