CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq " Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, completed live-fire exercises with newly acquired vehicles at Memorial Range near Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, July 27-30.
“Black Jack” Brigade troops conducted a live fire accuracy screening test using the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank, zeroed M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle weapon systems and conducted transition fire from Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles.
Soldiers of Company D, 1st Bn., 5th Cav. Regt., kicked off the four-day exercise by conducting transition fire, a method of weapons training where Soldiers switch between a crew-served weapon, such as the M240B machine gun, and their personal weapon within a matter of seconds, said 2nd Lt. Jake Donaldson, Company D intelligence support team officer in charge.
Donaldson said transition fire is important for Soldiers who assume the role of gunner on an MRAP when on patrol or as part of a convoy. This type of training is essential to current U.S. force protection measures, as increased threats against patrols and convoys remain present, he added.
Gunners learn to switch from a distant threat to close-quarter threat " such as an individual attempting to attack a patrol by walking up on it " simply by transitioning from a crew-served to personal weapon, explained Donaldson from Gettysburg, Pa.
“(Personal weapons) go where crew-served weapons cannot,” he said. Another important fire element for a cavalry Soldier is the main gun aboard a tank or a Bradley, Donaldson added.
Company D troops spent weeks preparing for the exercise after acquiring the equipment from 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div., said Donaldson.
Preparation included conducting routine maintenance, adjusting the main guns’ bore sights and ensuring proper configuration of the tanks’ computer systems.
Essentially, anytime equipment is received, new or used, or moved to a new environment, it must be maintained and the weapons checked, Donaldson explained.
“In a brand new environment, the equipment’s system data must be checked to ensure it works,” added Sgt. John Martinez a tanker from San Antonio with Company D.
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle also spent a week undergoing the same process of maintenance and zeroing of their weapons as the tanks did, said 1st Lt. Cameron Arndt, executive officer for Company B, who calls Madison, Wis., home.
Crews tested both vehicle types at the range, with each of the teams taking turns zeroing their main guns using stationary targets.
Each process, although very similar, had differences, said Donaldson. Unlike a Bradley, the tank systems need to be adjusted to the current environment, he added.
“(A tank) takes longer to zero than a Bradley because of the parameters of the targeting system,” he said.
Besides zeroing weapons systems, the range afforded training for the crews and ensured the vehicles are operationally ready, said Donaldson.
Specialist Troy Pressley, currently on his second deployment, said as a Bradley crew gunner for Company B, the exercise was a success.
The exercise went very well with no problems, added Pressley, who calls Lawton, Okla., home.
Pressley said he has been to the Bradley range three times since last year and works with the vehicles on a regular basis. He said that gives him the confidence he needs to patrol the area with the Bradley the mission requires it.
He added that using the Bradley would increase security for Soldiers and civilians in and around COB Speicher by adding an extra line of defense.
“I am confident it will do some good,” he said.