Artillery paratroopers talk readiness, resiliency
August 6, 2013
While Spc. Ryan J. Caouette simulated preparing rounds for the all-digital M119A3 105 mm lightweight howitzer during gun crew certifications, July 30, on Fort Bragg, N.C., he wasn't necessarily thinking about readiness and resiliency. It's a good bet that the members of his team weren't either--their attention was focused on showing their leadership they had what it took to emplace, fire and recover their weapon system.
Many of the activities paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team participate in from the time they show up for physical training to the end of the duty day are focused on building troopers who are ready to win the current fight and the next, and who are resilient throughout whatever challenges may come.
During the week artillerymen from Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 1st BCT, qualified their gun crews, a few paratroopers took time out of their training to talk about what being ready and resilient means to them.
Spc. Trace A. Williamson, with Battery B, said he believes physical training is one of the most important things he and his fellow paratroopers do every day to stay ready and resilient.
"If you're physically fit and able to perform your duties it becomes a lot easier, especially when you're lacking sleep and motivation," the Provo, Utah, native said. "If your body's still running strong it's easier to overcome everything."
Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Gutierrez, a sixteen-year veteran, agreed, saying possessing physical fitness is one of the most important qualities an artilleryman can possess.
The battalion master gunner said troopers need to be strong so they can lift and emplace howitzers, and they need to have stamina so they can improve fighting positions by digging survivability and machine gun pits. Physical fitness also plays a major role in successful airborne operations, Gutierrez added.
"Being airborne paratroopers, once we assume the mission we should be ready to fight [for] 72 hours continuously, to shoot, move and communicate," he said.
Readiness and resiliency are also tied to being mentally tough, Gutierrez said. The master gunner said troopers need to hit the books so they know how to properly sight the guns, use the proper fuses in a variety of rounds and be experts on using their individual and crew-served weapons.
Gutierrez said artillerymen not only participate in a variety of training events to stay sharp--like gunner's testing, air assault rigging and heavy drops--but are also trained on how to take care of themselves and their fellow paratroopers through master resiliency, equal opportunity and sexual harassment/assault response and prevention training.
"Those things are really important--especially master resiliency training--so our [troopers] have resiliency," the master gunner said. "If you have resiliency you can calm down and … get the job done in the right manner and be calm under pressure."
In Spc. Chris J. Auspurger's opinion, being calm under pressure has a lot to do with the cohesiveness of a team. The Alhambra, Calif., native said developing positive relationships with the members of his gun crew is most important to his readiness and resiliency.
"If we're more of a family [and] we understand each other--how we act, how we react--it's just better, we work faster," he said. "[And] if we get along better we're happier too. That's what really matters, if we're all happy together."