By Spc. Justin Moeller (101st Airborne)March 5, 2013
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Collateral damage, or unintended damage, has always been a concern during firefights or when responding with mortar or artillery fire. Soldiers rigorously train with their weapon systems to refine their skills and to ensure they hit only the target they are aiming at.
In an effort to reduce the possibility of collateral damage even further, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, Currahee, 120mm mortar teams trained with XM-395 Precision Guided Mortar Munitions round paired with the M150/M151 Mortar Fire Control System on Feb. 27, 2013 at Fort Campbell, Ky.
"This round has all of the same characteristics as a high-explosive round, the only difference is you program it," said 1st Lt. Grant Fischer, the mortar platoon leader with 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 101st Airborne Division.
The XM-395 PGMM is a GPS guided round that has similar qualities of a high-explosive round but can give commanders more accurate indirect fire capabilities as well as reduce the number of rounds required to successfully defeat targets.
"With a regular 120mm high-explosive round you can set the fuse how you want it," said Fischer. "The main difference with this round is you have to attach a fuse setter to it, that is what gives it the GPS coordinates it will need to fly and hit that target."
Fuses on most rounds have to be manually set. On the XM-395 PGMM, a handheld electronic fuse setter loads the mortar with GPS coordinates to the target, as well as programs how the round detonates.
"A few of the different settings are impact, where the round will blow up on the ground; you have [proximity], where the round will detonate above surface of the ground; and then you have delayed, where the round will go into the ground or your target and then detonate," said Fischer.
Aside from choosing the type of detonation and loading coordinates, utilizing the MFCS enables Soldiers to fire more quickly and efficiently.
"When you are getting the gun up, you aren't using a sight and two poles, you use a screen that shows you how many times to turn the traverse and the elevation," said Pfc. Adrian Dragos, a mortarman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Inf. Regt., 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. "Using this system will make our job a lot easier."
"It's going to mitigate the collateral damage," said Sgt. Jimmy T. Sinclair, the fire support non-commissioned officer for Company D., 2nd Bn., 506th Inf. Regt., 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. "With standard operating procedures in place and continual training with this weapon system, there is a potential to minimize the amount of rounds fired and decrease damage to buildings and civilians."
The ease of use and efficiency of new weapon systems like the MFCS and XM-395 PGMM, provides the Currahee's a valuable tool to utilize for their next rendezvous with destiny.
The Currahees are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in late spring of 2013.