GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Twelve seconds is all the time the mortar platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, needs to send a round onto the battlefield. This skill needs to be practiced routinely to ensure the mortar team can support friendly troops on the ground. That training was put to the test on May 25, 2017 at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany.

The exercise was part of the 2-12th's newest mission, an emergency deployment readiness exercise, testing what a unit can do when ordered to deploy on short notice. These field exercises are simulated to be as realistic as possible to asses how these infantrymen would react if deployed on short notice and thrust into combat upon arrival.

The mortar team is an important part of these exercises as they provide cover to the teams moving on foot, as well as having their skills put to the test by being able to successfully destroy targets by night and day. Often times the teams do not have a direct line of sight to their target and have very limited time to react when a firing mission comes down. Sgt First Class Malcolm Azarcon, the platoon sergeant of mortar platoon explained the importance of such speed.

"As a mortar platoon it's our job to provide quick and accurate indirect fire to cover and aid our maneuvering companions," he said.

The mortar team ran dry fire drills to ensure their accuracy on the battlefield, with plans calling for later situations that employed real ammunition. These training scenarios often inject complications that may be found in combat, to evaluate how well teams can handle such adversity when a firing mission surfaces.

This deployment to Germany has allowed the Soldiers of the mortar platoon to take a look at their past training and find new ways to execute tasks. One of their major strengths they already understand and showcase is their mobility. Compared to most artillery units the mortar platoon can move much faster in terms of changing direction of fire and moving around in an area. Staff Sgt. Sheign Hopson, a section sergeant with mortar platoon explained.

"We can provide heavy indirect fire and also put down immediate fire if the situation calls for it," he said.

Like most of the 2-12th, the mortar platoon keeps an eye on the future. Without skipping a beat, Hopson further observes how this training in Germany will significantly affect his team in the future.

"It's a good base line for where we need to improve, and where we need to go as a mortar platoon moving forward," he said.


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