Artillerymen sharpen skills, test new weapons
August 13, 2009
<B>FORT STEWART, Ga.</b> With the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, continuing its transformation from a heavy brigade to light infantry brigade, units within the brigade are training to become a lighter fighting force.
Soldiers in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, continued that training in verification live-fire, Aug. 7.
The once heavy artillery battalion begin its transformation from using the larger M109A6 (Paladin) Howitzer to a M119 A2 Howitzer, a more manually-operated weapon system, in a live-fire that tested if the battalion's new weapon system functioned and fired correctly.
"It's the first time Bravo Battery, 1/76 has gotten the opportunity to shoot the (M119 Howitzer)," said Sgt. 1st Class Stephan Gomez, platoon sergeant with Battery B. "It requires a little more work and effort on behalf of the sections and the crews; everyone has more elements and moving pieces.
Soldiers from the Patriot Battalion are the only Soldiers currently within the 3rd ID to use M119s.
Sergeant 1st Class Gomez said that the training will help get everybody into the artillery mentality, that their job is to send projectiles down range and provide indirect fire when called upon.
The M119 will help the unit become more versatile and enable the unit to bring the fight to the enemy, said Sgt. 1st Class Gomez.
As Vanguard Artillerymen transfer to lighter assault weaponry, the M119 is designed to be transported by HMMWV. The M119 also has the capability to be transported by air, making it and the unit adaptable to most situations they may encounter.
Sgt. Rob Goodfellow, battery fire direction noncommissioned officer, said the M119 A2 will enable the battalion to complete the light infantry mission.
"These are more suitable to a smaller base of operations," Sgt. Goodfellow said. "The ammo is smaller and easier to transport and we use HMMWVs, which are highly mobile vehicles."
With using a smaller and more mobile weapons system, artillerymen will have more movement capabilities.
"It really gives us a lot more mobility. We're able to go more places. We're able to go to smaller places," he said. "These pieces are all about mobility. They are about being able to take them about anywhere and support infantry and troops in contact."
As the Patriot Battalion continues to prepare for their next deployment, Soldiers continue to train on the M119 to continue to become proficient and efficient on the weapon system.
"For a lot of the new guys like myself, it's a good experience to get out here and see what's really going to go on (during a deployment)," said Pfc. Willie Foster, section crew member.