Mortar troops of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (2ABCT), 1st Cavalry Division (1CD) finished their bi-annual Mortar Training and Evaluation Program (MORTEP) certification at Curry Mortar Center, Fort Hood May 10-15.

Two combined arms battalions and one cavalry squadron from the "Black Jack" brigade sent their indirect fire infantrymen and organic M1064A3 mortar carriers to fire at Curry during the five-day training event. The MORTEP evaluates a mortar troop on all tactical tasks and certifies they can deliver precision fire at the order of the commander.

"Our certification program ensures we provide the most well trained, timely, and accurate indirect fire for the brigade," said Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Wiggins, 11C, B troop 4-9 Cav, 2ABCT, 1CD.

The MORTEP is an opportunity to introduce newly arrived Soldiers to their equipment, test the proficiencies of the section, and build confidence within the mortar troop during live fire.

"My section has only been together for a couple of months," said Wiggins. "This is the first live fire that we have had collectively. They're getting great hands-on training, realistic feedback, putting in hard work in the heat, and you can't simulate this in a garrison environment so it's great to be out here."

Mortars are a valuable combat multiplier for the commander. With the capability to deliver 120mm high explosive (HE) rounds on the battlefield, a mortar troop's ability to deliver precision fires is a powerful contribution to the armored brigade combat team.

The training event allowed Soldiers to hone their tactical skills and develop their leadership abilities.
Normally in the turret as a gunner, Spc. Weston Grant Smith, 11C, was a trainer and coach for the less experienced Soldiers. He understands the importance of giving Soldiers new to the team the repetitions necessary to become proficient at firing.

"We bring organic firepower to the commander," said Smith. If a commander needs firepower, they don't request support from someone else. If you don't know your job, what good are you?"
Recent temperature highs and little shade at Curry provided additional training opportunities for the Soldiers. Smith said tactical skills and mental toughness are both necessary to sustain the rigors of combat.

"We work in austere environments," said Smith. "The heat is a good opportunity to train for that."

Curry Mortar Center provides Black Jack indirect fire infantrymen the opportunity to step away from the daily tasks of the garrison environment and perfect their skill-sets in the job they signed up for.

Black Jack mortar troops returned to their home station ranges after returning from a nine-month deployment to Korea in March.