By Staff Sgt. R.J. Lannom JrMay 10, 2018
The Georgia Army National Guard is getting a new generation of Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) instructors and operators. After-action reviews following two Georgia Garrison Training Center Machine Gun Leader Courses suggested there was a knowledge gap and a lack of qualified CROWS operators throughout the state. GGTC instructors searched for CROWS courses of instruction but were unable to find training opportunities for new operators beyond the initial fielding class.
"There wasn't any sustainment training available through the Army training system," said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew G. Hersey, a senior instructor with the Georgia Army National Guard Pre-Mobilization Training Assistance Element, Fort Stewart, Ga. "So we decided to make one."
After identifying the need, the Georgia Department of Defense's Joint Force Headquarters and GGTC came up with a solution.
"We coordinated to have the (U.S. Army's) CROWS fielding team conduct another training class," said Sgt. Maj. Joseph Shirer, operations and training sergeant major for the Ga. ARNG. "After training the new instructors, our intent is for those instructors to hold operators classes for the Ga. ARNG, other states and even the active component."
The CROWS initiative will add to the list of training events and courses supported by the GGTC. These courses include the Machine Gun Leaders Course, Small Arms Leader's Course, Physical Readiness Training, and Raven Unmanned Operators Course.
Increasing readiness across the state is the overall goal of the training innovation.
"We are moving the readiness meter in the right direction," said Maj, Robert M. Walker, commander of the Fort Stewart-based Georgia Regional Training Site, Maintenance.
The M153 CROWs is an externally mounted weapons control system that allows the gunner to remain inside the vehicle, protected by armor, while firing the various crew served weapons it supports. The system can support the Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher, M2 .50 caliber machine gun, M240 machine gun and M249 squad automatic weapon.
The CROWS provides gunners the ability to traverse 360 degrees and elevate weapon systems up to 60 degrees while using the latest sighting technology to greatly improve first round burst hit probability against stationary and moving targets.
"This system improves the safety and lethality of our Guardsmen," said Walker. "The ability to get the gunner inside a protected space and improve shots is a no-brainer."