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N.J. Guard tests GREM
Story and photos by 1st Lt. Greg McElwain, Joint Forces Headquarters, Pennsylvania National Guard

GREM makes it's presence known. Alpha Company Soldiers tested the new breaching system at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA.

Featured on the Discovery Channel's "Future Weapons," the Grenade, Rifle, Entry Munition, or GREM is an exciting new weapon that changes the dynamic of the urban breach.

And on May 15, the Soldiers of Alpha Company, 50th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, had the privilege of being the first guard unit to fire the GREM at National Guard Training Center at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.

Giving the platoon a standoff distance of up to 40 meters away, the GREM is a rifle grenade that works with 5.56mm rifles such as the M-16 and M-4. It uses the momentum of the ball or tracer round to project the grenade into the door.

Capt. Jason Mull prepares to fire an inert GREM round.

In a hostile combat environment, the breach has traditionally been done with mechanical breaching tools, shotguns, or (most commonly) a well-placed kick. A successful breach is quick and powerful and allows the platoon to insert themselves into the room instantly. Soldiers being trained for deployment know that the breech is a critical moment. If the door does not give way immediately, the element of surprise is lost.

Waiting at the ready line, the Alpha Company combat engineers are set to fire the weapon system. Their enthusiasm is not surprising; very few National Guard units have had the opportunity to train on the GREM. In fact, the New Jersey Guardsmen are the first to fire the GREM at Fort Indiantown Gap.

The round is fired and the door splinters into pieces; the Soldiers instantly see the GREM's importance. "We thought the inert round was cool, but this surprised us," said Pfc. Rogelio Vidal. Vidal knew the round would push through the door, but he did not expect the explosion to be so precise.

"It cuts down on the equipment we have to carry for a mission," said Vidal. "It is good to know that I will have my hands on my weapon the whole time."

Company Commander Capt. Jason Mull recognized the importance of this event.

"Training on the GREM is making them more versatile in Urban Breaching environments," said Mull.

When asked how difficult it was to field this new weapon, Sgt. Jacque Mignot of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Pennsylvania Army National Guard Training Center said "It was almost too easy. Capt. Mull went the extra mile to research the weapon system and properly prepare his troops."

Soldiers of Alpha Company, 50th Brigade Special Troops Battalion surveying damage and preparing to fit a new door for next round.

Alpha Company has found cost effective ways to practice breaching including creating an adjustable and mobile steel door jamb that can securely hold different sized doors that have been donated by local contractors.

"I envision the GREM becoming an integral part of our Urban Breaching toolkit," said Mull. "Having the GREM as a weapon system provides us with additional options."

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Volume 35 Number 3 Staff / Information
(c) 2011 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs