By Staff Sgt. Mark A. Moore IISeptember 28, 2015
The event tested their physical and mental toughness during the Army's Physical Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, written knowledge exam, and virtual call-for-fire exercise where forward observers completed six realistic training missions.
"The last couple of days we have conducted forward observer certifications," said 1st Lt. Jacob Gibson, assistant fires officer, 2-87th Inf. "It's a bi-annual requirement in order to maintain our accreditation to observe fire from both surface-to-surface and air-to-surface fires."
Gibson continued to explain that without proper training forward observers who call for artillery, mortar, or fixed wing close air support are more likely to make errors that could result in unnecessary property damage or death.
"We have to have trained Soldiers to engage the enemy with timely, accurate and precision fires," said Gibson. "Without this certification we lose that capability and hinder the maneuver commander's options."
Gibson and his Soldiers have a critical role to help a ground commander shape a battle field by delivering illumination rounds to increase night time visibility, smoke rounds to conceal troop movement, and high explosive rounds used to destroy the enemy.
Soldiers rotated through the virtual training in 2-person teams consisting of an observer and radio operator who coordinated with fire support elements to eliminate enemy targets.
For Pvt. Johnny Betts, forward observer, A Company, the training was an opportunity to build confidence while identifying areas to improve.
"It gives me confidence in the things that I know I can do and it showed me how much more training I'll need to become a master at my job."
Ultimately for Betts learning to complete his missions without making mistakes means saving lives in combat.
"I love doing this stuff," said Betts. "I know if I'm really good at my job now I'm going to be really good down range and I'll save more lives and help our family come home to theirs back in the states."