By Sgt. Rakeem CarterFebruary 9, 2018
FORT HOOD, Texas -- "Enemy troops, one o'clock!" yelled the driver of a Stryker M1135 Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle, NBCRV. Staff Sgt. Devron West, the vehicle gunner, quickly rotated his .50-caliber Browning machine gun using the infrared monitor of his remote weapon system.
"Enemy troops, one o'clock! Firing!" West yelled as he targeted a squad of troops on a hill. The deep thumps of the machine gun shook the NBCRV as shots rang out in burst. "Enemy troops destroyed!"
West, a reconnaissance squad leader assigned to the 300th Chemical Company out of Morgantown, West Virginia, was participating in a gunnery at Fort Hood, Texas. The gunnery gave the Army Reserve unit the opportunity to qualify on weapons in preparation for mobilization.
"This training supports [the Army Reserve commanding general's] vision of ensuring that units mobilizing are able to increase lethality and be prepared to fight and win in combat," said Maj. Whinston Antion, Operations chief for the 485th Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear Battalion and lead organizer of the gunnery.
The gunnery consisted of 300th Chemical Company Soldiers conducting live-fire missions in different-sized elements, giving them the opportunity to qualify on their vehicle-mounted weapons, including the .50-caliber Browning machine gun, the M240B and the M249 squad automatic weapon, West said.
"This training is a great opportunity to do what a lot of Soldiers signed up to do, which is Soldiering," West said. "Very rarely do we have the funding or training time to actually come out and shoot off of vehicle platforms at good targets, at a good distance with sufficient ammo."
During the gunnery, the Soldiers participated in various tables and gates on the Fort Hood range, starting as individual crews and working their way to conducting missions as a company, with multiple vehicles engaging targets simultaneously.
"The crew table consists of 10 individual engagements with a variety of single and multiple targets, both stationary and moving, conducted during the day and at night," West said. "For the NBCRV, there's a two-man crew consisting of the driver and the gunner, who is also the vehicle commander. For the light medium tactical vehicle there's a traditional driver, truck commander and gunner."
Gunnery is being able to put rounds on targets in a timely and efficient way, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Terstegen, an observer coach/trainer and the master gunner at 4th Cavalry Multi-Functional Training Brigade.
"Gunnery for me is separating the best of the best," Terstegen said. "The purpose is to gain confidence in your crew's ability to work together and build confidence in your equipment and ability to survive on the battlefield."
Terstegen, whose training specializes in specific platform weapons systems, was one of five 4th Cav MFTB Soldiers assisting in the gunnery.
"The gunnery brings training and confidence to crews that, when and if deployed, they can effectively defend against an enemy," Terstegen said. "It starts you out as an individual crew qualifying and then, working as a section to a platoon to a company-size element, being able to shoot move and communicate."
The 300th Chemical Company troops are really motivated, said their commander, Capt. Victoria Barnosky. "For many of them, this is the first time they are really using and working with the weapons. The [M240Bs] are new to our unit, so getting the training for the very first time and going directly out onto the lanes and being able to fire is just an added benefit."
"One of the capabilities as a chemical unit, because we have these weapons, is that we can do convoy support, and we can support our own Soldiers while we are out in the field or out doing a real CBRN mission," Barnosky added. "It gives us a little more capability so we don't have to rely on an infantry unit or a unit with these types of weapons."
The 300th Chemical Company greatly benefited from the opportunity to train on their weapons systems under the supervision of OC/Ts, Barnosky said.
"Our whole goal with doing this in such a quick fashion is because we are getting ready to deploy," Barnosky said. "So having the OC/Ts here, they are the subject matter experts on many of the tasks we are doing, but they are also the ones who are validating us when we do the mobilization training."