By Staff Sgt. Kyle Richardson, 41st Fires Brigade, PAODecember 30, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Almost as quickly as Thanksgiving tables were set and then cleared, Soldiers of the 'Rail Gunners' brigade quickly took up fighting positions throughout Fort Hood, Texas, to participate in the last three-week field exercise of 2010.
The 41st Fires Brigade, known as the 'Rail Gunners,' recently wrapped up a valuable Mission Rehearsal Exercise - testing, training, and validating on mission essential weapon systems, spanning multiple training locations Nov. 28 - Dec. 17.
Throughout the year, the unit upgraded equipment, trained on weapons systems and mission essential tasks. However, during this MRX, the Soldiers and leaders compiled all of their training and knowledge together in order to stop forces comprised of outside units.
"We are a fires brigade," said Col. John Thomson, commander, 41st Fires Bde. "It is our job to put accurate, timely, and decisive fires down range. It's important that we are able to move our platoons and batteries on the battlefield effectively and efficiently."
Using advanced, computer-based scenarios, opposing forces attacked with common and uncommon tactics known by enemy forces.
"The MRX develops around refined training objectives for the brigade and from possible deployment mission scenarios," said Maj. Patrick Gray, a plans officer for the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 41st Fires Bde. "Everyone gains a practical, hands-on perspective by going through an MRX. Field exercises that include culminating events show new Soldiers and remind the more seasoned Soldiers the importance of a fires brigade."
Through early warning systems and surveillance equipment, the Soldiers can maneuver more effectively around enemy forces, plan missions, and minimize the loss of lives and damage to equipment.
"We have an important job within the 41st Fires Bde.," said Sgt. Adrian Benavides, early warning systems operator. "We're always watching the sky and the ground, keeping a lookout for enemy movement or suspicious activities."
Soldiers ran 24-hour operations in mission orientated protective posture (MOPP) level II throughout the duration of the exercise, ready for whatever the enemy had to throw at them. The bulky, yet protective chemical suit served as a constant reminder that the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons is a real threat on today's battlefield.
"It took some time to get into that role of a 24/7 Soldier and to get use to the MOPP suit," said Pfc. Melissa Gomes-Rodriguez, survey and meteorological crew member. "After doing my job for a while, I got comfortable and I received some valuable training here."
The Soldiers of the Rail Gunners Brigade worked long and hard to push the enemy's forces back. In the end, everyone gained a better understanding of their jobs and the importance of a fires brigade's mission.