News: The Road to JRTC: B Battery, 101-FA
Story by Spc. Roy Mercon
JERICHO, Vt. - With only a few training days left before their rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., Soldiers with Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment are doing all they can to prepare themselves. During a recent drill here, these Soldiers participated in a live-fire exercise centered around the use of howitzers.
“Any time we can get hands-on and fire the guns is going to benefit us for JRTC or other big training events like that”, said Sgt. Joshua Cropp, a Howitzer section chief for B Battery. Though their crew is young, Cropp says the upcoming JRTC rotation will be his third Annual Training as a section chief. Everything his leadership has taught him is more than enough experience for his team to learn from.
“All of that combined knowledge is getting funneled into [the chiefs] to make us successful for another AT”, said Cropp.
While at their JRTC rotation later this year, these Soldiers will get the certifications and training necessary to deploy into a combat zone, if necessary.
“At JRTC, we are going to be certifying the battery in order to be able to be deployed and fill roles at the same standard as active duty guys,” said Sgt. William Cahill, a Howitzer section chief for B Battery.
This weekend's training will be on par with what is expected at their JRTC rotation. This is in addition to the normal 'Warrior Tasks and Drills' that are the norm during a drill weekend.
“[JRTC] will almost be a direct reflection”, said Cropp. “We will be doing live-fire operations, convoy operations, so this is one piece of the puzzle. If we can fire effectively, and we are safe while we fire, it can give us a chance to focus on tasks that we don't normally do while on a regular drill weekend”.
In order to have the full picture, Cropp says it is important to retain familiarization with tasks associated with, but not done every drill weekend. Training on tasks that will be tested at JRTC and beyond will only serve to benefit the Soldiers, and in turn the Regiment.
In addition to firing the Howitzers, training was conducted on the proper set-up and operation of slings designed to load the cannons underneath helicopters for rapid transport. This training is something that these Soldiers haven’t had the chance to have since their last rotation at JRTC.
“[We did sling-loading] last JRTC and it worked out really well”, said Cropp. “The more we train, the more proficient we’re going to get, and the more training we can incorporate that into”.
Cropp also said they plan on doing practical exercises with the sling-loading while at JRTC.
Being a part of the artillery regiment is one of those lifetime joys for these Soldiers. Their role in the big picture of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) is an essential one, and being able to love the job only helps to bolster their successes.
“You're shooting big bullets that blow things up,” said Cahill. “It's every kid's dream to blow something up. It's an adrenaline high, it's cool.”