By Spc. Emily Knitter, 1HBCT Public AffairsAugust 9, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. (Aug. 9, 2012) -- In preparation for a deployment where units will be spread out across a wide area, having a broad base of knowledge is imperative. Squad and team leaders with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, spent a morning refreshing their "call-for-fire" skills as part of that type of wide-range training, Aug. 2.
"Teaching our Village Support Operation teams and infantry squads how to effectively call for and destroy targets using indirect fire gives them the ability to do my job if I am not there," explained Spc. Nicholes Mosca, a forward observer with Co. A, and a class instructor. "I hope after this class that they understand the basics of calling for fire in case the time comes where they need to save lives."
Although the intricacies of an entire profession cannot be taught in a few hours, the Soldiers were taught enough to get the job done if needed in combat.
"In Afghanistan right now, most of the contact we take is out of our primary weapons range," said Sgt. Michael Macdonald, a team leader with Co. A. "So, we are going to need whatever we have to engage our enemy directly. Our forward observer isn't always going to be with us, so knowing the basics allows us to call for fire directly and not have to rely on someone else being there."
The class is required for every team and squad leader before they head downrange, as either a brush-up on their knowledge or an entirely new lesson.
"I had a week training when I first got to the unit, but a lot of these guys haven't been in here at all," explained Macdonald. "Everyone needs to know how to call for fire. Without this training, we would be losing assets."
To give the most beneficial learning experience to the Soldiers, Mosca threw them into their roles headfirst.
"This class in particular is interactive, so instead of just going through Power Points we get to take what we are learning and use it (on a simulator)," Macdonald said. "It was pretty cool."
As the ammunition came crashing down on the screen and sent the targets ablaze, the Soldiers laughed and congratulated each other, taking time to enjoy the training. But in the long moments after a Soldier sent a fire request, before the round appeared as a black plume of smoke on the screen, the room was silent in tense anticipation because this is the only time they'll get the chance to do it again if things go wrong.