FORT STEWART, Ga. - As infantry Soldiers took the Expert Infantryman Badge test here last week, Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, trained in a similar light in preparation for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team's new battlefield mission, Oct. 26-30.
In a training event known as Patriot Challenge, the field artillery battalion tested Soldiers' proficiency of basic infantry tasks.

First Sergeant Jack Glasscock, acting command sergeant major for 1/76 FA, said it is important for field artillerymen to sharpen their common Soldier skills.

"They are basic tasks that every Soldier must sustain, regardless of their (military occupational specialty)," he said. "Basic infantry skills are even more so needed, now that we have transitioned from a heavy to a light field artillery battalion."

The Patriots joined five other 4th IBCT battalions and a headquarters element in an official transformation from heavy armor to a lighter fighting force after an operation known as Vanguard Swarm, Sept. 15. Prior to the Swarm, 1/76 FA replaced their "heavy" M109 Paladins for "light" M119 Howitzers.

The battalion is not only ensuring its Soldiers become proficient in operating their new equipment, but that all Soldiers can operate individual weapons like the M249B machine gun and the M240 Squad Automatic Weapon.

"As we prepare for our upcoming wartime mission, we know that we must be able to shoot, move, communicate, sustain and survive," 1st Sgt. Glasscock said. "It is essential that every Soldier in our battalion knows how to operate a .50 Caliber, M240B and a M249 SAW."
He added that all Soldiers must understand how to evacuate and perform first aid to a casualty, call for fire, and set up and operate a radio.

"Sending information in a timely and accurate manner can mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield," 1st Sgt. Glasscock said.

Additionally, 1/76 FA Soldiers conducted day and night land navigation. The battalion's senior enlisted advisor said hosting Patriot Challenge in the field, as opposed to in a garrison environment, was also crucial.

"We needed to ensure that we could sustain ourselves over a period of time," he said. "On today's asymmetric battlefield, we have all kinds of support elements conducting patrols and manning weapons in the gunners hatch on escort missions. It is imperative that we re-kindle our basic common core tasks as a foundation for survival and mission success."