FORT STEWART, Ga. (May 18, 2017) -- Train to fight tonight. It is the call Army leaders answer when it comes to becoming tactically proficient to lead Soldiers in combat. Officers in 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, 3rd ID received hands on training here, May 16, 2017 to answer that call.
Seniors from 1-9FA trained at different stations set up behind their battalion headquarters to better understand the different roles artillery officers must fulfill in combat and garrison and to prepare for the big three technical exam.
The big three technical exam consists of a hands-on portion and a written portion. The big three exam is used by 1-9FA and other artillery units to certify lieutenants in their roles at their units.
"This training gives the battalion officers a better understanding of their job and the tasks their Soldiers must execute for mission success," said Capt. Nicholas W. Bowers, the fires directions officer for battalion. "It also prepares them to step in and fulfill the role of their Soldiers should they become unable to continue."
For mission success, senior artillery Soldiers develop their skills in different roles on and off the battlefield. Their combat knowledge is essential to leading their Soldiers to victory against enemy combatants and cement themselves as warriors ready to fight tonight.
The purpose of the training is to familiarize them with field artillery tasks, said Bowers. They also trained to understand the purpose of a fire direction center and to use it for mission success.
Soldiers receiving the hands-on training went through aiming circles training, which taught them how to properly place and secure Howitzers. They also received observer training, which teaches how to accurately pinpoint an enemy using coordinates. Howitzer crew drill simulations were conducted to spot safety violations and to learn effective techniques to operate the Howitzer.
This was the first collective officer hands-on training in the unit since arriving six months ago, said Bowers. They were set up in mixed teams. That gave them opportunity to interact and learn from their peers.
"This training, most importantly, gives the unit leaders perspective on what their Soldiers do," said Bowers. "A good example would be learning what actions Howitzer crew members must take to successfully strike and destroy enemy combatants."
There is a learning curve that some senior leaders face when going from one artillery unit to another or when they are coming from the basic officer training course. There is a strong possibility that they may not have been in the position they are being assigned to before. Some, whether new or current, have never been exposed to some of the equipment used at the training site, said Bowers.
"For all officers, there is always the chance that you will be placed on a team with people you have not worked with, in a position you have not held before and you must still perform with 100 percent efficiency," said Bowers.
2nd Lt. Marc S. Melfi a fires directions officer for Bravo Battery, 1-9FA is ready to be placed in new roles and work with different Soldiers.
Melfi said that the way this training is designed, it will help him become a more effective artillery officer who meets all demands. He understands that roles change almost yearly and retaining the knowledge from a previous position is a must to be a well-rounded leader and maintain unit confidence.
"I have to keep up to date with the most current doctrine to understand the equipment and Soldiers I command," said Melfi. "It is no big deal to ask for guidance from the unit gunnery sergeants and other platoon leaders."
This training is important for Bowers and Melfi for the same reasons; team morale is built by engaging with other senior leaders and Soldiers and it prepares them to lead effectively at different capacities.
"This training helps me appreciate the relationship between officers, their teams and equipment and reminds us that as an officer in the U.S. Army, you never have one job," said Bowers.