FORT CARSON, Colo. -- On May 15, Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division executed crew gunnery qualifications utilizing a variety of heavy machine guns in the southern training areas of Fort Carson, Colorado.
Gunnery is conducted by executing a series of firing orders or "tables" in which each crew must identify, engage and destroy a series of targets at various distances. Using their assigned weapon systems, crews encounter targets ranging from 300 meters to 1,200 meters during both the day and night.
"Live fire exercises like this keep our force postured to employ precision lethality when required," said Cpt. Michael Houston, operations officer, 4th BSB, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "Soldiers engage their weapon systems mounted in the manner they would in combat and in doing so, validate the lethality pillar of readiness. Unit lethality is a key component to force survivability in a contested environment and can never be neglected during training."
To support mission readiness, gunnery--in conjunction with a slew of other training--is executed on a rotational basis to ensure all Soldiers are prepared and trained to defeat the enemy when called upon.
"It's really easy for Soldiers in support roles to get really focused on their jobs in the motor pool or at the Supply Support Activity (SSA)," said Spc. Trenton Best, a mechanic who serves as part of the command group in the 4th BSB. "This training gets us refocused and reminds us that our primary job above all is to be a combat Soldier ready to destroy the enemy."
Gunnery tables are scored as a series of target engagements. Soldiers must achieve a cumulative score of 700 out of 1,000 points for all engagements during both day and night iterations.
"Gunnery was a challenging yet rewarding experience for our Soldiers," said 1st Lt. Jeffrey Lobue, the assistant operations officer for 4th BSB, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "It gave them the chance to become more proficient with their assigned weapon system and vehicle crew. We have limited opportunities to conduct gunnery, so it's key that we maximize the crews' time to not only become familiar with the tasks, conditions and standards, but to also master them."
Prior to qualifying on their respective weapon systems, Soldiers spent time zeroing and adjusting their weapons in preparation for the qualifying iteration. This occurred during times of optimal and limited visibility, so as to simulate actual combat conditions.
"This is my second gunnery qualification with the unit," said Staff Sgt. Caleb Castle, the headquarters platoon sergeant of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team. "Gunnery is great because it has several aspects to it."
Castle's crew was awarded the title of "Top Gun" for receiving the highest qualifying score out of the entire battalion.
"It helps the Soldiers improve their ability to shoot, move, and communicate during both day and night," Castle said. "It also gives them an idea of how a gun crew operates during a deployment while also adding an element of competition, which draws the best out of the Soldiers. Most of all, it keeps the unit trained and ready to deploy at a moment's notice."