FORT CARSON, Colo.- A Mobile Gun System Stryker accelerates along a dirt road while firing a heat round followed by a fireball from its 105mm cannon during gunnery table five, Aug. 11, 2015.
Table five is the last practice table for Soldiers of Echo Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, before firing the table six gunnery qualification where crews prove their mastery of their weapon systems while destroying targets from 1,000 to 4,000 meters away.
"We're out here to hone and improve our proficiency in our main weapons system which is our vehicles," said Capt. Jared Wayne, commander, Echo Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "Since we have the bulk of the firepower in the brigade it's incredibly important that we're able to engage and destroy targets to the fullest extent that's possible and do so at the furthest possible range against as many targets as possible."
This is the second MGS Stryker gunnery since the brigade's transition from an armored to a Stryker Brigade March 17, 2014. A transition where the brigade traded in its M1A2 Abrams tanks for new Strykers.
"On the Abrams we were the front of the fight with infantry support. Now that we're on an MGS platform we're really here to support the infantry," said Sgt. 1st Class Casey Wainwright, platoon sergeant, Echo Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "It takes a little bit in a change of mentality transitioning from an Abrams to an MGS but at the end of the day we still get to fire big bullets."
The MGS crew members must learn to work cohesively under stressed conditions in order to successfully qualify due to the timed scenarios in gunnery tables.
"As a combat vehicle crew we need to be able to work as a team and be able to function as one," said Wainwright, a native of Eden Prairie, Minn. "So the driver, gunner, and vehicle commander can work as one unit and engage units as fast as possible and bring lethal fires to the enemy."
Sgt. John Hill, MGS gunner, Echo Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., said that there's constant communication between the MGS Stryker gunner and commander while acquiring targets.
"Crosstalk. I'm the gunner and my commander is a lieutenant and we both scan 180 degrees separately," said Hill. "He can find a target that I don't see and put me onto it. Crosstalk is big."
Three-man MGS crews will certify on the 105mm rifled cannon, M2 .50 caliber machine gun and coax M240 machine gun through enemy engagements, including; degraded systems and chemical defense scenarios during the week of gunnery tables.
"There's a lot of challenges associated with having brand new equipment and firing gunnery on platforms that are somewhat unfamiliar," said Wayne, a native of Washington. "We're learning a lot of good lessons and the crews performing phenomenally. They fire almost nonstop day in and day out until they qualify."