Stalker Battalion Preps 41st For Deployment
Sergeant Jorge Pazmino, a Vehicle Crew Evaluator from 2nd Battalion, 340th Regiment, 4th Cav., receives a back brief while mentoring a 41st IBCT gunner on range safety before they train.

<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </b> - It is another hazy, hot and humid day on the Red Cloud Hotel range complex on Fort Stewart.

Elements of the 41st Brigade Combat Team out of Oregon prepare to head to the Gun Truck Crew Evaluation. The crews were already validated on preparatory skills needed for the full run-phase of this training.

Waiting to train the 41st IBCT on the range are Soldiers of Fort Knox's 2nd Battalion, 340th Regiment, 4th Cavalry Brigade, called the "Stalker Battalion."

"These ranges do more than 'check the block,'" explained 1st Lt. Matthew French, a Louisville, Ky. and the range officer in charge for 2/340.

"(This training) allows the Soldiers headed into theater to know that they are battle ready," he said. "All of the preparation we have made to conduct these ranges is paying off. These Soldiers are responding and really bonding as crews. It is a good feeling at the end of the day."

The Stalker Battalion has been preparing for weeks, and has been, and will continue to be, deployed much of this year for intense training.

"We spent about a week getting the range set up and conducting our rehearsals," said 1st Lt. French. "We have to go over every aspect of the range, including range control communication, logistics resupply, actions on the range, real-life casualty evacuation, and even processing and turn-in of all validation documents. But once the range is blessed off, then the real fun begins."

"Explaining what I do to my Family and friends is kind of hard because it sounds so easy," said Sgt. First Class Anthony Kron. "We train and evaluate units deploying to support the war; however, getting them to understand the process takes a little longer."

The battalion is a multi-component unit, consisting of active-duty, National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers, and Army Civilians. The Soldiers come from a diverse background and provide a deep pool of knowledge represented by nearly all branches of the Army. This diversity allows the Stalkers to be flexible in the missions they conduct.

"We currently are running a Table VIII Gunnery Range, but in a few days we could possibly transition into running a piece of the Opposing Force mission, and might even move into providing (Observer Controller / Trainers) coverage if required," said Maj. Michael Baker, battalion operations officer. "Additionally, we currently have Soldiers working on the brigade staff filling important staff shortages."

The range is a test of the gun crews' ability to shoot, move and communicate. A perfect score of 1,000 points is achieved by hitting a total of 10 targets within 5 seconds of exposure, while maintaining proper communication within the crew, as well as their ability to report contact to their higher elements.

"What we hope to see by the time they reach our range is a tight crew that knows the commands (and) the weapon, and is comfortable as a team," said 1st Lt. French.

"We expect to have at least 12 perfect scores this rotation, and as of the 27th, we have had five. So let's see who else is ready to step up," said Maj. Baker.

Page last updated Thu June 4th, 2009 at 11:31