FORT CARSON, Colo. - Forward observers of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, reaffirmed their lethality in the brigade's first training event of the year during fire support team certifications, Jan. 5-8, 2016.
"A forward observer is a field artillery Soldier that's responsible for adjusting indirect fires from artillery, mortars and close combat attack (helicopter support). Some of us are joint fires observers and we're able to do close air support missions," said Sgt. 1st Class Earl McCormick, brigade fires operations noncommissioned officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "We provide support for the brigade's deep fights."
The weeklong gauntlet of challenges with increasing difficulty from day-to-day tested 13 fire support teams from four different maneuver battalions from across the brigade.
"Since we found out about the certification we've been doing basically everything possible to prepare. Training in call for fire, getting our Stryker ready, getting our personal skills ready and learning to operate as a team," said 2nd Lt. Jonathan Mayo, fire support officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Bn., 12th FA Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "What I really appreciate about this is it highlights how we can improve."
Every Soldier was required to pass a written examination of skill level knowledge, artillery skills proficiency test, land navigation, occupying and securing an observation post, target identification and call for fire missions based on individual skill level in order for the whole fire support team to certify.
"These Soldiers have to know their job at all times, be able perform their job and any job the maneuver elements asks of them," said Capt. Matthew Van Vliet, assistant brigade fire support officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Bn., 12th FA Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div.
Indirect fire support is essential to the success of combined arms operations and requires accurate and qualified observers to locate targets and adjust fires.
"This allows the teams to actually go out with their maneuver elements and call in real rounds because they are now certified by the brigade to support those maneuver elements and use indirect fires," said Van Vliet. "Just like how the maneuver elements have to go through a gunnery to certify with their weapon systems."