Soldiers first to fire precision-guided mortar round in Afghanistan
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Nicholas Ketchen and Spc. Colt Corbin, mortarmen from Company C, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, achieved a first in the U.S. Army history by firing a 120mm Mortar Precision Guided Muniti... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative XM395
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative XM395 cartridge uses a standard M934 high-explosive 120mm projectile body. In the nose, a GPS receiver and computer controlled aerodynamic directional fins keep the round on its programmed trajectory. Foldi... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan, March 31, 2011 -- Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Kushamond fired a 120mm Precision Guided Mortar Munitions round for the first time in Afghanistan, March 26.

Mortarmen from Company C, 1-506th Infantry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, fired the round, which hit within four meters of its target.

"It is exciting to be chosen to field this round for the first time. This brigade has the history of being first in the fire support area," said Sgt. 1st Class John Kohne, the 4th Brigade Fire Support Operations noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "We were the first to fire the Excalibur (precision guided Howitzer round) with our last rendezvous with destiny in our last tour here in 2008. It is humbling that the Army would entrust us with this."

A mortar is an indirect fire weapon system infantrymen at the battalion-level use for immediate fire missions. Normally a mortar fires a "dumb" round - one that does not have an on-board guidance system.

"The 120mm precision guided munitions will allow Task Force Red Currahee to provide even more effective fires with increased lethality," said Lt. Col. David Womack, commander of the 1st Bn., 506th Inf. "The accuracy of the 120mm PGMM (Precision Guided Mortar Munition) also reduces the potential risk of any collateral damage, (and) as a commander I have another tool available to fight the enemy."

"A 120mm mortar is a fairly accurate weapons system (with the dumb round), it is however not as accurate as the Howitzers," said Maj. Gary Pina, brigade fire support coordinator, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Div. "It was built for immediate fire suppression or support for the infantry battalions."

POina said the Howitzers are a brigade-level asset. The 120mm PGMM mortar round offers a more capable weapon system at the battalion level.

"It gives that infantry battalion commander a PGM (Precision Guided Munition) capability at his disposal. He has the Excalibur to use, but that is a brigade asset," said Pina. "But with this 120mm PGM he has that asset at his disposal."

Unlike the regular mortar round, the 120mm PGMM has a Global Positioning System and can hit a target location within 10 meters or less. This will help mitigate collateral damage and offer greater accuracy and first round fire-for-effect helps to reduce the number of rounds required to successfully defeat high value targets.

"Our Soldiers on the ground have capabilities that were unimaginable when the war on terror started," said Womack. "I am pleased how quickly our Soldiers and NCOs trained and employed the new system which is a tribute to our incredible NCO Corps. It is not lost on our Soldiers that there is nothing our Army cannot accomplish."

Related Links:

Soldiers to receive new precision mortar round

Picatinny fields first precision-guided mortars to troops in Afghanistan Fact Files - Indirect Fire Systems Middle East News

STAND-TO!: The Army Modernization Strategy

International Security Assistance Force