By Pfc. Justin Naylor, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsOctober 29, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas- The booming sounds of mobile armor bombard the ears of Soldiers from the various companies that make up 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, at Sugarloaf Multi-Use Range on Oct. 22. The Soldiers are on the range once again in preparation for their coming deployment to Iraq.
"This is the last training event on the tanks before the deployment," said El Paso, Texas native Spc. Timothy Davenport, a cannon crewmember for Company C, 1st Bn., 5th Cav. Regt.
The Soldiers and their leadership find the training to be of utmost importance with the deployment looming so close.
"It is very beneficial to new gunners," said 2nd Lt. Gary Klein, a platoon leader for Company D, 1st Bn., 5th Cav. Regt.
"It helps to make sure everyone is working together to hit the bad guy."
For the new Soldiers, it provides a different platform for training. The atmosphere is more relaxed with an emphasis on fine tuning their skills as well as building a sense of teamwork.
"In Advanced Individual Training they just expect you to know and remember," said Pfc. Chanthorl Chhem, a cannon crewmember for Company D, 1st Bn., 5th Cav. Regt. "Out here you get the real training, and you get to learn as you go."
With so many Soldiers manning so many vital roles inside of such a small space it emphasizes why training events like this are so important for crews. It gives them a chance to get to know fellow troopers they will be working elbow to elbow with for a year.
"Crew drills when it comes to communication amongst the crew are absolutely essential," said Klein.
"This training helps to maintain readiness for combat and proficiencies in armor crewman skills," said Spc. Jimmy Walling, a cannon crewmember for Company D, 1st Bn., 5th Cav. Regt.
It helps teach new Soldiers how to use the weapon. It also builds crew cohesion and gives ample time to build on any deficiencies crews might have, he said.
With multiple deployments under their belts, many of the "Black Jack" troopers find it easy to teach new soldiers.
"Working with new Soldiers is not a hindrance," said Walling. "It makes people better Soldiers. If you know your job, you can train other people. That is the best way to train yourself."
Different scenarios have been replicated to help bring this range into line with the current conflict. Rocket-propelled grenade teams have been set up as targets to make it more realistic, said Davenport.
This is an opportunity for everyone to learn from the tank commander down to the loader, and it gives the tankers a chance to shoot at different targets, said Davenport.
This training also helps Soldiers test their tanks before they take them into conflict.
"We are out here getting our tanks screened to make sure all of our gun tubes shoot straight and true," said Keith.
With this final pre-deployment tank training completed, new "Black Jack" Soldiers have been given the opportunity to learn from the experienced leaders and crewmembers that will accompany them to Iraq. Even those who have done this training many times before have been given a chance to hone their tanker skills and practice working with the new Soldiers. They can expect this training to come in hand once their boots touch ground in Iraq.