Story and photos by Sgt. Grady Jones
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Smoke and the deafening sound of mortar fire filled the air Sept. 25, as Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, conducted call-for-fire and mortar training.
“We’re doing live-fire training between the forward observers and the mortars,” said 2nd Lt. William Fleshman, fire support officer, Troop A, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “So we both are getting a lot of training out of this.”
Soldiers fired hundreds of mortar rounds from multiple M121, 120 mm Battalion Mortar Systems.
The unit has been training for about four weeks, and started with Soldiers concentrating on individual tasks, said 1st Lt. Jesse Davis, squadron fire support officer, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg.
“We had to take each mortarman through individual certifications,” said Davis. “Then, we had to make sure that each mortarman could identify the parts of the gun, and that the fire-direction (Soldiers) are able to calculate firing data.”
It’s important that each section is able to function independently, said Davis.
After certifying on individual tasks, both the mortar sections and the fire direction center certify on collective crew drills with dry-fire exercises.
“We’re big on cross-training our guys,” said Davis. “You never know who may become a casualty in battle. Someone may have to step up and be able to operate the system, so we train all the way, to the most junior Soldier.”
Forward observers and cavalry scouts observed the mortar impacts using various sights and lasers, such as the AN/PED-1 Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder and the Improved Bradley Acquisition Subsystem.
“Everything we’re doing out here is actually a part of our fire support team evaluation,” said Spc. Gregory Raith, fire support specialist/forward observer, Troop A, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., 3rd ABCT.
Every six months, forward observers must successfully complete an assessment before they are allowed to call for and observe indirect fires.
“Basically, you take a written test, physical training test, land navigation,” Raith said. “Then, you have to do basic forward observer tasks, such as setting up an LLDR.”
The unit was on the eighth, of 12, stage of mortar and observed indirect fire training Oct. 1, said Davis.
“It has taken a month and a half to get the unit to the point where they are now,” Davis said. “The training they’re doing today will help the squadron when they move into their section- and platoon-level certifications in October.”