PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- During a Project Manager Combat Ammunition Systems All Hands Meeting on May 16, four Soldiers and one Marine participated in a panel discussion about their use of precision munitions in theater.

The panel discussed two of our three precision munitions managed by PM CAS -- the Excalibur 155 mm artillery round and the 120 mm Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative (APMI). Both are GPS-guided, precision rounds. Excalibur was delivered to troops in 2007 and APMI was fielded last year.

The discussion allowed PM CAS employees to receive feedback on how well these products are performing in combat.

"What was good about it in terms of employment, how did it change how you addressed your area of operations around your FOB (forward operating base) or COPs (Combat Outpost)," Col. Scott Turner, PM CAS, asked the panel.

Turner also asked for suggestions on potential improvements for future iterations.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Robert McNees, a division fires chief during his last deployment, discussed his unit's use of Excalibur.

The Marine Corps fired a total of 187 rounds in the last year alone. Of those 187 rounds, he estimated the success rate at approximately 92 percent.

McNees said Excalibur was used for missions such as destroying Improvised Explosive Device (IED) belts and drug labs laced with IEDs. IED belts are strands of IEDs placed along a road.

If deemed too hazardous to send a vehicle to demilitarize them, the unit used an Excalibur to detonate them. "We sent one round down, and it set them all off the way it's supposed to."

Troops also found the APMI round to be beneficial.

"The XM395 (APMI) gave us the added advantage of being able to fire close to our own troops," said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua George with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment.

"Pretty much every round we fired this year was danger close, because of the terrain we had. So that was a definite advantage for us to be able to use that munition," he said.

Danger close means that friendly forces are within 600 meters of the intended target.

"(APMI) was also something we could use internally at the battalion level. It was something my battalion commander could use as an internal asset," George said.


During his last deployment, Capt. Christopher White, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, served as a battalion fire support officer for a Polish Brigade.

APMI's precision accuracy causes less collateral damage, said White.

"We try to be as safe as possible so that we don't put our own Soldiers at risk, and also we're not over there to harm innocent people," he explained.

"APMI brings a lot of the capabilities that we were waiting for, mainly precision capability at our level, at that range. There was a big gap in coverage around our FOBs that we weren't able to engage and have precision capability with our own assets. We were really looking forward to APMI.

"Everyone was excited about it and shooting that first test round had a lot of visibility for battalion leadership. Everyone wanted to know if it could actually do what it claimed it could do, and I think because of that success of the first round, we fell in love with it and used it constantly."