By Vince Little, The BayonetAugust 13, 2009
FORT BENNING GA - With several hundred people packed into viewing stands at Red Cloud Range, the Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles rolled into view.
They whizzed past the audience, which included about a dozen students from the Infantry Pre-Command Course, showing off their power and mechanical finesse. Then, the machines unleashed a torrent of missiles and gunfire on targets downrange, using strategically placed berms as Aca,!A"cover.Aca,!A?
The Aug. 6 event was part of a hands-on training exercise, or HOTEX, conducted by the 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment. Soldiers from the unitAca,!a,,cs 2nd Battalion put on a display featuring small arms, rifles and squad automatic weapons.
Aca,!A"This was a firepower demonstration,Aca,!A? said LTC Michael Junot, the 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment commander. Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre trying to show the capabilities and systems that the modern Infantryman employs on the battlefield. The reason families are out here is to allow the Soldiers to demonstrate their capabilities to the citizenry.
Aca,!A"My guys are well-trained, capable Soldiers who can fight and deploy anywhere in the world.Aca,!A?
The last three HOTEX events had to be canceled due to inclement weather, unit officials said.
SFC Robby Burns, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Red Cloud Range, said the demonstration serves as a combat refresher for the battalionAca,!a,,cs Soldiers.
Aca,!A"It lets people see what we can do,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"But it helps us sustain our discipline and tactics.Aca,!A?
SFC Kevin Willis, officer in charge of Red Cloud Range, said the HOTEX makes family members feel like part of the team.
Aca,!A"This gives them a closer connection to their Dads and spouses,Aca,!A? Willis said. Aca,!A"Also, it helps prepare our future leaders for battle.Aca,!A?
LTC Terry Wilson, of Fort Hood, Texas, was among the IPCC students in attendance. He develops equipment for the ArmyAca,!a,,cs Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications Tactical Aca,!" or PEO C3T.
Aca,!A"A lot of us who left our units have gotten away from the gunpowder and muddy boots. WeAca,!a,,cre getting a big dose of that again today,Aca,!A? Wilson said. Aca,!A"This helps us get a taste of it again and gets us to a level of comfort with our own abilities. As we go back to our formations, we walk away with the tool kits to get our Soldiers to this next level.Aca,!A?
After the military exhibition, visitors could enter the Bradleys and Strykers to test-fire the weapons systems. They also went into the live-fire pit to shoot the small arms and rifles.
Columbus resident Laura Phillips brought her son, Evan, 12, and his 15-year-old friend, Coleman, to the HOTEX.
Aca,!A"I wanted to shoot that Bradley,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"I got to shoot everything. I thought the demonstration was awesome. They did an excellent job. IAca,!a,,cm impressed.Aca,!A?