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CLDJ Transitions Deployed Sailors to the M18

10 July 2023

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rion Codrington

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (July 10, 2023) Over 280 Sailors deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, have qualified on the Sig Sauer M18 service pistol throughout May and June 2023.
The U.S. Navy is undergoing a service-wide transition from the Beretta M9 service pistol to the M18, and Camp Lemonnier's Weapons Department has ensured forward deployed service members are qualified.

“For three years I have conducted 73 ranges qualifying thousands of Sailors from Camp Lemonnier, Navy Security Forces, and the Maritime Expeditionary Security Force,” said Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Ryan Ramirez, a small arms marksmanship instructor assigned to Camp Lemonnier’s Weapons Department.

The U.S. military has used the M9 since 1985, but started to transition to the M18 in 2017 when the Army contracted Sig Sauer to replace Beretta as the modular handgun system manufacturer.

As part of the small arms modernization initiative, Commander, Navy Installations Command is requiring all shore installations to execute and initiate the transition to qualify Navy Security Force personnel on the M18 handgun.

“I had to understand the new weapon system, new holster, and drawing techniques so I could properly train Sailors how to draw, aim, and properly manipulate the external safety,” said Ramirez.

The M18 is a striker fired weapon that requires less pounds of pressure to fire allowing shooters to fire faster, and maintain better sight alignment than the M9. The M18 is carried with a level three retention holster, which can be concealed, unlike the level two retention holster for the M9.

“I think the weapons department did a thorough job training us on the holster,” said Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Jorge Diaz, assigned to Camp Lemonnier’s Port Operations Department. “It was a different feel for a lot of us, so the transition was a learning experience.”

Sailors qualifying for the M18 can prepare by taking small arms courses on the Center for Security Forces Toolbox App.

“If a service member does not qualify at the range then they won’t be able to properly use the weapon in a real-life situation,” said Ramirez “Practice, practice, practice - if you don’t use it, you lose it, and this is one thing you don’t want to lose while down range.”

CLDJ's Weapons Department will continue to qualify Camp Lemonnier personnel at the Djiboutian Range Complex in Arta, Djibouti.

“This training helps to do my job better, and it comes down to being ready for any threats,” said Master at Arms 2nd Class Blanca Ortega assigned to Camp Lemonnier’s Navy Security Forces.

CLDJ is an operational installation that enables U.S., allied, and partner nation forces to be where and when they are needed to ensure security in Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia.

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