Story and photos by Pfc. Andrew Ingram
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, headed “downrange” on Fort Carson during Maneuver Week, Sept. 5-12.
Artillerymen conducted gunnery certifications, intelligence analysts sharpened basic combat skills, and water treatment specialists validated their equipment and training.
Whatever their task, “Raider” Brigade Soldiers reaffirmed their basic Soldier skills and built on previous knowledge during various tasks and trials, said Capt. Eric Magnuson, assistant operations officer, 1st BCT.
“This was a battalion-level event,” Magnuson said. “Each battalion had its own training objectives and its own scenarios. The ultimate objective was to validate mission command on the move while conducting combined arms maneuvers.”
In addition to large-scale maneuvers, the week gave leaders a chance to test and train younger, less experienced Soldiers in basic warrior tasks, said Magnuson.
“Any time Soldiers go to the field it’s a chance for them to hone their craft,” he said. “There were plenty of opportunities for these guys to become more efficient Soldiers.”
Fire support specialists and officers refined their skills by performing call for fire missions, and requesting artillery strikes on targets miles from the observers’ location.
These fire support team certifications are vital to ensuring fire support Soldiers are capable of performing their career field specific tasks during combat operations, said Capt. Kevin Shouse, assistant brigade fires support officer, 1st BCT.
“We do these certifications every six months,” Shouse said. “It’s the one time where our fire support Soldiers can all get together and train. These are real rounds we are using; it gets our guys focused on what their job is and gets them back to the basics.”
During their certifications, the observers were posted on cliff tops or hills with a good vantage point of the Fort Carson artillery range. The observers identified targets, usually decommissioned tracked vehicles, and sent up requests for artillery support. Battalion level observers analyzed the requests to ensure the blast area was clear of personnel and relayed the requests to cannon crewmen.
“With every skill in the military it pays to keep your techniques honed to a sharp edge,” said Sgt. Calvin Freeman, fire support specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment. “That requires a lot of hands-on training, being out here in the dirt. Training in a simulator is great, but getting out of that nice comfy chair and air-conditioning, getting out here on a hilltop looking down at a target; that’s what it really is all about.”
As fire support specialists certified their ability to call for fire, artillerymen certified their abilities to respond to a request for fire and destroy an enemy with 155 mm rounds fired from Paladin M109A6 artillery systems.
Spending time loading and firing the cannons builds the crewmembers’ confidence as a team and reinforces the muscle memory the crewmembers developed during Advanced Individual Training, said Pfc. Michael Cataudella, cannon crewman, Battery B, 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment.
“Coming out here and working with the more experienced Soldiers is really helping me develop my skills and building us up as a team,” said Cataudella, who has only been with the unit a couple of months.
Meanwhile, intelligence Soldiers assigned to Company A, 1st Special Troops Battalion, focused on sharpening their basic warrior skills, from reacting to contact to caring for wounded comrades on the battlefield.
The wide variety of training the company underwent emphasized enhancing basic Soldier skills, said Spc. Brittney Rodrigues, human intelligence collector, Company A, 1st STB.
“We all know our (intelligence) skills pretty well,” said Rodrigues. “But that is only part of being a Soldier. Nobody knows what will happen when we deploy, so it is important for us to be trained and ready to face anything.”
As Maneuver Week came to a close, water treatment specialists from Company A, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, transported a tactical water purification system to the David Townsend Reservoir and validated their skills by pumping brackish water from the reservoir through the TWPS to create hundreds of gallons of potable water.
The water treatment specialists conducted the training wearing full gear, including Improved Outer Tactical Vest and Advanced Combat Helmet, to better simulate a deployed environment, said Spc. Lemont Bell, water treatment specialist, Company A, 4th BSB.
“We try to do this training every month, but our gear made it much more realistic,” Bell said. “This training gave us a chance to build unit cohesion and find out what our team’s strengths and weaknesses are.”
The Soldiers of the “Raider” Brigade now stand ready to deploy to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., said Magnuson.
“The tasks we focused on this week will come up again during NTC,” he said. “The Raider battalions have done a very good job and I predict we will do very well at NTC in October.”