FORT STEWART, Ga. – Soldiers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment and 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, "Spartan Brigade," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted joint training to certify mortar sections and fire support teams, or FiSTs, at range OP4 from Sept. 13-15 at Fort Stewart. The mortar Soldiers in 3rd Bn., 67th AR, better known as mortarmen, fired more than 100 rockets toward targets several kilometers away from their M121 120 mm mortar system as part of their semiannual live fire qualification, known as the mortar evaluation training program, or MORTEP. Fire support teams, or FiSTs, from the 1st Bn., 9th FAR, were able to validate their own combat tasks simultaneously.
Before engaging the target with all the platoon’s mortars, one mortar team conducts a call for fire, where the FiSTs can assess the accuracy of the fired mortar round and pass that information back to the fire direction Center, or FDC, to make necessary adjustments.
“This training event was critical because it certified both our own battalion mortar platoon, but also the 1st Bn., 9th FAR, fire support teams that support us,” said Lt. Col. Dan Hodermarsky, commander of the 3rd Bn., 67th AR. “This certified team of forward observers and indirect fire infantrymen was able to train together, get to know each other, and form a more cohesive and lethal team.”
The brigade fires support officer, or FSO, who advises the commander, overseas and ensure the proper validation of the FiSTs for each battalion.
“The FiSTs are the joint representatives within our units at the platoon level to the brigade,” said Maj. Jaypatrick Griffith, FSO for the 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “The modern forward observer may deliver surface-to-surface fires, fixed and rotary-wing aircraft support, UAS collection, and even electronic effects.”
In a combined arms battalion in an ABCT, the mortars capability is held at the battalion level and is a primary means of providing indirect fires up to 7200 meters for forward deployed units.
“This is the final table that qualifies us as a platoon to be able to then fire in support of maneuver elements and their collective live fire training, which would be platoon, company and battalion level,” said 1st Lt. Tony Scinta, a mortar platoon leader assigned to 3rd Bn., 67th AR. “Mortar qualification is an opportunity for our Soldiers to fire live rounds at the smallest element with their teammates.”
Sergeant 1st Class Peter Streb, the mortar platoon sergeant for the 3rd Bn., 67th AR, is the unit’s senior mortar noncommissioned officer. “When mortars get called in combat, somebody is in trouble,” Streb said. “So, we need to be on our game and able to provide that indirect fire in minutes.”