YAVORIV, Ukraine-- Soldiers assigned to 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, along with Polish and Ukrainian multinational partners, acted as observers/controllers for Ukrainian Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 80th Airmobile Brigade during mortar live-fire, Nov. 9, at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, as part of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine.
The Ukrainians were conducting direct lay training on six 120mm mortar systems. A Ukrainian battery consists of two platoons, each having three 120mm mortar systems. Each platoon occupied opposite sides of a road to provide adequate coverage during the training exercise.
According to 1st Lt. Claire Vanderberg, mortar platoon leader assigned to 6-8 CAV, direct lay means that a mortar battery can view the target. The gun commander is going to identify a target, and he is going to try to engage that target just with himself, his gun and his crew. They are going to estimate range to the target, using binoculars, adjust the elevation of the gun, aim and shoot.
"Depending on how good they are, it could take a couple of rounds to actively engage the target," she said. "Each gun is going to have the opportunity to fire on its own and then we're going to fire as a platoon and then as a battery."
Since July, Vanderberg has been responsible for planning, coordinating and training Ukrainian Soldiers on the mortar system. She is currently on her second rotation training Soldiers and said she is impressed with the knowledge of the current unit.
"This unit is very well trained and we have fallen into more of an observer/controller role," she said. "The American, Polish and Ukrainian instructors are able to stand back, observe and make sure they are firing safely."
Vanderberg has worked with the 1-80th Airmobile Brigade for several weeks and has formed a professional relationship with the battery commander.
"When I first met the battery commander, he said that he was really interested in learning from us (Americans) and the Polish because he said, 'if you can learn all modalities of war, then you can be the god of war.'"
JMTG-U's mission is aimed at developing defensive skills and improving Ukraine's capacity for self-defense. They accomplish this during a nine-week training rotation that starts with individual skills, like the different tactics used with mortar training, and builds up to collective skills training such as platoon live-fire and ultimately a battalion field training exercise.