'Dagger' brigade Soldiers perfect surface-to-air defense skills
By Staff Sgt. Simon McTizicMarch 6, 2019
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Scanning the skies, watching for enemy aircraft to appear in range, the Stinger team chief guides the shooter while he aims through the rear sight reticle. The team worked in unison when the helicopter peered over the horizon.The team chief calls out the location and the shooter locks on to the target and fires. The movement of the aircraft is suddenly halted by the violent explosion from a FIM-92 Stinger missile, destroying it.The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, conducted FIM-92 Stinger simulator training Feb. 22, 2019, at Fort Riley, Kansas, to provide Soldiers hands-on digital simulation experience with the Stinger Troop Proficiency Trainer. It also taught Soldiers how to organize as a Stinger task force and prepared them to engage hostile aircraft."The system is straightforward," said Capt. Rob Roberts, the FIM-92 Stinger simulator instructor from 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team for 2nd ABCT. "We accomplished a lot through familiarization training by bringing Soldiers together who have never seen the equipment. By the end of the day we got them to be able to track, engage and destroy our enemy air threats through the simulator."During the past 15 years, the Army slowly drifted away from the FIM-92 Stinger, which is an infrared-homing, surface-to-air missile that has been around since the late 1970s. Now the weapon system is one of the Army's main focal points, Roberts said.The military occupational specialty 14S, an air and missile defense crewmember, specifically uses short range air defense equipment such as the surface-to-air Avenger and Stinger missile systems.The "Dagger" brigade class consisted of Soldiers from other military occupational specialties (MOSs) who don't specialize in using the equipment."I am an 11B, which is an infantryman," said Spc. James Gray from 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment. "When we are out in the field we may not have a 14S with us, so we have to utilize the equipment we have and kill what we can kill to eliminate threats and save lives."Some of the Soldiers who have received Stinger Troop Proficiency Training include personnel from specialized units such as military policies, engineers and brigade support battalions."It's challenging enough of what we ask of our Soldiers to do every single day," Roberts said. "Giving them an additional responsibility isn't ideal, we would like to have the manpower of a 14S to do the job. However, the United States Soldier is capable of doing anything. For them to come off of their organic equipment and jump into an air battle team to gives the capabilities back to the brigade and is a huge multiplier for us."