Forward Observers Get Hands on Training
January 20, 2010
The mountains surrounding Fort Sill rumbled and buzzed with the sounds of artillery, helicopters and bombers to give soldiers and Marines the opportunity to experience combat situations in the safety of a noncombat location.
During the week-long Operation Diamond Overlord, forward observers from the 75th Fires Brigade, 75th Ranger Regiment and the Marines of the 1st Air Navel Gunfire Liaison Company came together to share their skills and knowledge about the jobs they bring to the battlefield.
In addition to the forward observers, the Fires Brigade also provided rocket and cannon artillery fires from the 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment (Multiple Launch Rocket System) and 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment(155mm Paladin howitzer and M777 towed howitzer), respectively.
The training exercise offered the fire support teams, or "fists", simulated real work scenarios and also live artillery experience.
"It was a great time. We used not only the Joint Fires and Effects Trainer here at Fort Sill, but we also used live fire training lanes to call in Close Air Support, artillery support, fixed wing and rotary wing fire," said Staff Sgt. Shane Valley, 75th Fires Brigade Forward Observer. "We had Kiowa helicopters, a Specter AC130 Gunship, rockets and artillery all firing and working with us to make this training as real as possible."
While mixing the Marines and Rangers complicated some of the training, overall the teams were able to overcome their various terminologies.
"We are all forward observers, but this event let us know how a Ranger and a Marine call in for fire support differs," said Valley. "It really only comes down to verbiage. The words that each group uses may be different but everything else, the distance, degrees and mils are all the same."
At the end of the exercise the training was considered a success by those who worked together.
"I think it went very well. We learned from each other because we all had something to bring to the table and teach each other," said Cpl. Christopher Siwanowicz, Forward Observer, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. " The 75th Fires guys definitely helped us out with calling for artillery and we refreshed our basic skills and learned even more."
As the exercise closed down one basic idea was left with the Soldiers and the Marines as they headed back to their home units.
"I hope this training will reinforce the knowledge that we have and teach the guys to be flexible and not to become complacent in their current jobs," said Valley. "Everything we have learned and know is perishable. They have to keep training to avoid losing those vital skills."