CAMP BUNDELA, India (Oct. 24, 2009) -- The early morning sun had already risen enough to bring the temperature to 88 degrees.
Not quite as hot as in the days prior to this one, but just right for a trip to the firing range for the Soldiers assigned to Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
The unit arrived at the range mid-morning after a two-hour delay. Their mission was to fire the Javelin missile as part of Exercise Yudh Abhyas 09.
After arriving at the range no one was more anxious to get the show on the road than Sgt. Peter Bitter, a cavalry scout team leader and Javelin/Stryker gunner with Troop B.
It had been four years since Bitter finished the Javelin course, and due to the enormous expense of the missile, Bitter said this was his first time firing a live missile.
"I've only fired dummy and simulation missiles," said Bitter.
Regardless of the significant time since taking the course, Bitter said he is still well aware of his job and a perfect hit on target is the only answer.
"You have to make sure you find the target and get the right bracket targeting before you pull the trigger," he said.
The missile will do the rest, by penetrating a tank and detonating inside, he added. "The Javelin can easily cover a 200-meter blast area," said Bitter. "If two vehicles are side-by-side, the missile may destroy them both."
Indian Army Soldiers were present to witness the highly anticipated missile firing. Their enthusiasm was obvious as they clamored to learn the specifications of the system. The Soldiers, who are assigned to the 31st Armored Division, said they had seen the Russian-made Kynkurs system, but never the Javelin. The only contact they had with the Javelin was through videos.
Thirty seconds before the launch, the assistant gunner announced the imminent firing. The rocket-sound of the weapon was deafening.
"Yeah. Yes. Way to go Bitter," observers cheered.
Regardless of not firing in four years, Bitter was dead-on target.
"That was outstanding, said Bitter. "Every combat-related Soldier should be able to fire the Javelin at least once."
The other Soldiers in Troop B said they felt the same way and had confidence in Bitter the whole time.
"This is the best training possible, no training is better than live training," said Sgt. 1st Class William Drussell, a platoon sergeant with Troop B. "You would think if a Soldier hasn't fired in more than four years his skills would be perishable -- this proves they're not."