FORT PICKETT, Va. — After a nearly year-long renovation project, the Multi-Purpose Range Complex at Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett, Virginia, was formally reopened with a ceremony Nov. 6, 2020. Rather than the traditional ribbon cutting, the ceremony featured a Tennessee National Guard Bradley fighting vehicle sending rounds downrange to signify the range was back open for business.
Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher, the Virginia National Guard Land Component Commander, gave remarks during the ceremony, as did Col. Paul Gravely, the Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett garrison commander.
“It’s a big deal. It’s good for us and we hope it attracts a lot of folks here to the commonwealth and here to MTC,” said Gallagher during the ceremony. “Having realistic, challenging training is the goal of our MTC and certainly the MPRC, and this gets us a little closer to that.”
The event capped off a $1.8 million upgrade to the MPRC over the course of nearly a year, though the timeline was delayed some because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The improvements include a major targetry upgrade as well as an all new after-action review system for units conducting gunnery.
“Aside from the targeting and the controls, the thing we’re most excited about is the camera system,” said Gallagher. “We think it’s going to make the AARs much more powerful. Our Soldiers today learn a lot more visually, we’re learning, so we want to enable that. In the end, being able to watch the film on how they progress through the range we think is going to make them more lethal in the end.”
“A unit’s gunnery runs will not only be taped visually, but you’ll be able to hear what’s going on in the vehicles,” added Gravely. “It’ll be a great capability for them to have those after-action reviews on their gunnery objectives.”
The staff of MTC’s Directorate of Plans, Training and Security as well as the Directorate of Public Works did the heavy lifting on the project, according to Lt. Col. James C. Shaver, chief of DPTS.
“For the DPTS and DPW staff out here - they did all the work,” said Shaver. “The credit all goes to them for the work they put in, working with the contractors and everyone else. We’re glad to finally have this thing wrapped up and having units shooting on here.”
“To the DPW and DPTS staff, who I also refer to as my family, this is a job well done here,” added Gravely.
The range serves not only Virginia National Guard units, but also units from other states and services. The Tennessee National Guard Bradley which conducted live fire during the ceremony was from the Mount Carmel, Tennessee-based 4th Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Elements of two different Marine Corps armored battalions currently training at MTC were in attendance as well.
The MPRC, one of only four on the east coast, is an 832-acre range and can serve a wide-variety of vehicles including Bradleys, tanks, Humvees, Light Armored Vehicles and Amphibious Assault Vehicles. It can also serve rotary wing aerial gunnery. It boasts more than 100 targets, 16 defensive battle positions and four maneuver lanes. Original construction on the range was completed in 2006.
The improvements to the MPRC aren’t the only recent range upgrades at MTC. With training slowed due to the pandemic earlier in 2020, Fort Pickett’s range control personnel were able to clean up and cut back vegetation affecting line of sight at some of the ranges, including those directly adjacent to the MPRC.
During the pause in training, they also conducted additional prescribed burning and maintenance on firebreaks, and the Directorate of Public Works conducted bridge work and road network maintenance projects.