Unless you’ve been wearing earplugs for the past few weeks, you’ve most likely heard quite a few booms coming from Fort Stewart.
With all five brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division at home and the cold weather, the noise has been heard further than normal.
The most recent booms are from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team conducting routine gunnery. And in the coming months, the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team will go to the ranges here.
With the uptick in noise, many people might be wondering what’s happening on Fort Stewart, said Lt. Col. George Morris, commander of 1st ABCT’s 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment.
“There is a lot of firing going on at Fort Stewart right now and you can feel and hear it in the background,” Morris said. “But it is absolutely imperative for our soldiers to be able to be confident in their weapons system and be able to deploy lethal means on targets. We always have to be ready.”
Weather plays a significant role in where and when noise is heard, said Jim Pearson, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security training division chief.
“The noise experts tell us that noise travels further when it is cold and the air is more dense,” Pearson said. “Overcast skies also increases noise.”
For the tankers of 2-7 Infantry, gunnery has just started with individual tank drills, Morris said. The next steps are platoon and company gunneries culminating with large maneuver force training.
“Tank gunnery for us is a certification of these tank crews to be able to execute combat operations safely and securely and be lethal and expert cohesive tanks,” Morris said.
The realism hands-on gunnery provides is unmatched to anything a simulator can offer, Morris said. The noise, smells, and vibrations of firing live ammunition is vital. It also allows for the tank crew to move and communicate in conditions closer to combat.
“It is very important for these crewmembers to find and engage targets down range from where they are with live ammunition,” he said. “There is nothing like being in the turret of a tank and watching a 120-milimeter round go off next to you and that large tank tube kick back and rock the vehicle.
“These are precise weapons systems and moving communicate in that turret takes practice. As much as we do it in simulation, you got to get out here and you got to shoot live to be lethal and for us to trust that these tankers are able to shoot what they see.”
Being able to see targets—regardless of lighting conditions—is imperative, Morris said, day or night. Nighttime gunnery trains tankers how to be lethal in those dark conditions, firing and maneuvering in terrain that looks different when the lights are out.
“We have to be ready to fight all the time,” Morris said. “We’ve got to be able to fire in the morning, at night and in the evening, whenever we’re called upon because, unfortunately, war is not a 9 to 5 job.”
To ensure Soldiers are trained and ready, the ranges on Fort Stewart are always active, Pearson said. A confluence of new equipment and the 3rd ID having all units on post have also increased the training noise.
“We have all five brigades training at home station for the first time in 15 years, so we’re not firing anything ‘new’ per se, we’re just doing more of it,” he said.
Annually, around 12 million rounds are fired on Fort Stewart’s ranges, Pearson said. The 3rd ID’s brigades have already made a large dent in that number for 2022.
“Units reported firing 1,183,852 rounds in January,” he said.
While the noise is routine for those training and those familiar with Fort Stewart’s mission, there are times the noise might be too intense. A complaint process exists for those times, said Amanda Price, Directorate of Public Works public relations.
“The noise complaint process is important because it ensures that all complaints are handled in an appropriate and timely manner,” Price said. “Complaints are taken very seriously by the installation. Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield strives to maintain its excellent relationship with surrounding communities.”
While Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield is a year-round training installation, the communities surrounding the installation can expect to hear training noise for the next seven months. The appreciation and patience of the southeast Georgia communities is paramount in making the units that train here able to answer our nation’s call when needed, Morris said.
“This is my literal second home,” he said. “We really appreciate the community and what we’re able to do and the resources the community helps provide for the 3rd Infantry Division especially here at Fort Stewart, Georgia. So thank you for everything you do to support us while we train and maneuver to be able to fight our nation’s wars.”