Raider Crews are busy identifying and knocking down targets with their Abrams Tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle weapons systems as part of a brigade-wide gunnery here at Fort Stewart, Ga.
Tank commander and platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, Company B, Sgt. 1st Class Erskin Duncan has been in the Army 17 years and has successfully completed 35 gunneries but feels this one is significant because it will probably be his last gunnery before moving into a 1st Sgt. position.
"I want to give my guys one last hoorah," said Duncan. "One of the major challenges we face with this gunnery is training new personnel in new positions but we go through task after task to get proficient."
All of the tank and Bradley crews in the Raider Brigade qualified while in Korea but with personnel turnover there are a lot of new faces at the range.
One of those new faces is eighteen-year-old Pvt. David Fender, a tank driver with 1st Platoon, Company B, who is experiencing his first gunnery. The Ohioan Soldier said he has been in the Army a little under a year and really like the Army's fast pace learning style.
"My favorite part about my job is serving with the crew I have now because they are smart and constantly teaching me new things," said Fender. "This gunnery is the most memorable part of my career so far and I'm looking forward to qualifying and getting my first pair of tanker boots."
There are several phases of gunnery, starting from ensuring the vehicles are fully mission capable to individual and crew training. Capt. Jacob Lopez, the assistant operations officer with the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was one of the lead planners for the gunnery while he still served in the brigade plans shop.
"This is one of the best things you can do in an armor brigade combat team. The importance of conducting gunnery is to maintain proficiency and hone our lethality," said Lopez. "Crews put in many hours, utilizing simulation centers to practice shooting and maneuvering."
Raiders crews will continue to qualify through spring and then will conduct another gunnery in the fall before their 2020 decisive action rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Ca.