'Steel Dragon' troops fired up for training; next mission
July 24, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - "When we get ready to shoot, nothing in the world matters except for what happens inside that gun," said Spc. Joshua Twaddell, a 155mm canon crewmember with Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division from Philadelphia, Penn.
"That's our job," he said. "It's what we're here to do. Inside the gun, we don't pay attention to anything that's going on outside. We just listen to the radio, listen to our chief and our gunner, and do our job."
"It's exhilarating! You get pumped up, ready to shoot rounds," he said.
"We had a guy yesterday who had never shot rounds before," Twaddell said. "He didn't want to get out of the gun!"
Btry. A provided artillery fire for the brigade's combat patrol units as part of a training exercise on Fort Hood, Texas that began July 14. "Greywolf" commanders designed the exercise to prepare Soldiers for their deployment to Iraq later this year.
"We're trying to replicate what we believe our mission will be as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom this winter," said Lt. Col. Benjamin Matthews, 2-82 FA's commander.
"We have two firing units; a four gun platoon in Alpha Battery and also in Bravo Battery," Matthews said. "Right now, Alpha Battery is providing indirect fire for the entire brigade combat team. If there's a combat patrol in need of assistance, they have the ability to call the battalion, who is able to support that patrol by providing indirect fire."
Matthews, an Atlanta, Ga. native, said that he wanted his troops to get the most realistic training possible and planned events with that in mind.
"What we're trying to portray here is, to the best of our abilities, a day in the life of a Soldier in Iraq. We're on a FOB," Matthews said, "we're trying to live as a Soldier in a FOB, with a dining facility, latrines, entry control points, and combat patrols in and out."
"This will give them some idea of what to expect when we go to Iraq," he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Eric Andersen, a platoon sergeant with 1st platoon from Fresno, Calif., hoped that his newest Soldiers were acclimating to the sleep schedules of being in the field.
"They're 24 hours on duty, then 24 hours off," he said. "They need as much rest as possible in order to be ready for their next shift and they have to get used to working the four guns," he said.
"They learn the rotations, and what they need to do when they're on and when they're off," Andersen said. "They also get used to switching out effectively and quickly with their battle buddies."
"Sometimes I pull back to let one of my chiefs step up and do some of my duties," he said. "Then, the gunner can step up to the chief's position.
"It works well," Andersen said with a smile, "because they can get hands on. They're doing good so far."