By Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie WidemondMarch 13, 2015
FORT PICKETT, Va. - Observer-coach/trainers from the 2-306th Field Artillery Regiment, 188th Infantry Brigade traveled to the Fort Pickett Mobilization Training Center to advise and assist the Virginia Guard's 1-111th Field Artillery Regiment, 1-116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team with fire support missions.
"We have been coaching them since January. This is our third IDT [Inactive Duty Training] with them, and we are primarily here to make friends," said Sgt. 1st Class Nathaniel Eidson, fires OC/T.
The monthly training was a good time to get to know the guardsmen and learn their tactics, techniques and procedures during battle drills. The OC/Ts develop relationships early to put the training unit at ease.
"We don't want to come in during their annual training where that is the first time they are seeing us," said Eidson.
During this IDT, the focus was setting up a gun line, in addition to conducting air assault operations in preparation for a multi-echelon integrated brigade training event in June at Fort Drum, New York. The MIBT is a culminating exercise that builds upon the eXportable Combat Training Capacity conducted last year at Fort Pickett. The XCTC is a program of record that partners with First Army to simulate a full spectrum operation training environment enabling the National Guard to focus solely on training.
"When we are there, we are going to be doing not only fire missions but an air assault as well where our guys will perform sling load operations," Capt. Bryan Hawley, commander Bravo Battery, 1-111th FA.
Over the next few months, all of their IDTs build up to the MIBT, and the 2-306th OC/Ts use their doctrinally based knowledge to ensure mission success.
"They are here to give us feedback, overall if they see where we may need to make improvements they will give us input and let us know where we are at," said Hawley.
"To ensure they are getting the most out of their training, I use the requirements for accurate fire," said Staff Sgt. Charles Percell, 2-306th OC/T.
The requirements include meteorological information, firing unit location and target location and size. These requirements have been used as a foundation for solving gunnery problems since World War I. Before the round comes out the tube, there are many pieces that have to come together seamlessly, from the forward observers, to the fire direction center, to the gunner on the munitions team.
"It's always demanding, it challenges you and requires a lot of attention to detail," said Spec. Sean Tompkins, M119 A2 howitzer gunner.
This attention to detail helps the training unit to work out the bugs during the IDTs, instead of figuring it out at the annual training.
"We are squared away by AT. We have pretty much worked out our bugs, it's just fine tuning now," said Hawley.