FORT RILEY, Kan. — Nebraska National Guard Soldiers from the 1-134th Cavalry Squadron and 2-134th Infantry Battalion had the rare opportunity to conduct live-fire training with 32 missiles on Dec. 13.
Thirteen tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided — or TOW — missile system and Improved Target Acquisition System gunners in the Nebraska Army National Guard’s only combat arms units trained at Fort Riley.
“The purpose of this training was to give Soldiers experience and to get them familiarized and qualified with the TOW weapon system,” said Capt. Joshua Kelsey, range officer-in-charge, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1-134th Cavalry Squadron.
To be able to fire the weapon system, each Soldier had to complete a roughly week-long TOW Gunner Course and training tables. This live-fire event was the last of the required training tables for the Soldiers to become fully qualified on the weapon system.
The TOW can be mounted on a tactical vehicle or tripod. For this training, the Soldiers fired the missiles from the tripod.
This was the first time most of the Soldiers fired a TOW missile and the first time since roughly 2017 that the Nebraska units had the opportunity to fire them.
“We don’t get the opportunity to shoot these often, and definitely not this many,” said Sgt. Owen McClenny, cavalry scout, B Troop, 1-134th Cavalry Squadron. “The last time I shot one was off of a Bradley in 2016.”
The TOW is an anti-tank missile with a longer effective range and a larger warhead than previous missiles.
“It sounds cliche using the buzzwords like ‘being more lethal’ and ‘being a force multiplier,’ but that is exactly what combat arms is supposed to be,” Kelsey said. “It is one of our most deadly weapon systems, and proper training is necessary to be effective in combat.”
The day-long training ended just before sunset.
“I think this training went as well as it could have went,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Moulton, range safety officer, 1-134th Cavalry Squadron. “A bunch of the missiles were past their shelf life and designated for training only, so a few hang fires and misfires were expected. Having roughly 24 successful shots is still a good training experience.”