News: ‘Ready First’ crews make history by qualifying on MGS Stryker
Story by Spc. Jessica Luhrs-Stabile
FORT BLISS, Texas - Since January, Stryker Mobile Gun System crews assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, “Ready First” 1st Armored Division, have been participating in Operational New Equipment Training at various locations on Fort Bliss to prepare for one thing – Stryker MGS gunnery qualification. In July the soldiers were able to demonstrate their newly acquired skills for the first time during a strenuous 2-week long qualification course.
During the range qualification the three-man MGS crews qualified on three different weapons; the main gun a M68A1 105-mm rifled cannon, a M2HB .50-caliber Heavy Barrel machine gun and a 7.62mm, M240 machine gun as secondary weapons. All nine crews who participated in the range qualified and the MGS crew of Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 1/1 AD took home the honor of being called “top gun.”
According to Spc. Jesse Boda, a MGS gunner with Bravo Company, 4-17 Inf., range qualification is not only about qualifying with the weapons, the crew members also have to learn to work with one another and rely on each other’s abilities.
“We really learn to work together as a team,” said Boda, a Grand Rapids, Mo. native. “We either all qualify together or all fail together.”
To ensure all of the soldiers qualify together, contractors from General Dynamics have been training the soldiers on vehicle maintenance, weapons systems integration, and understanding the numerous command, control, computer, communications, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment; since the brigade became the Army’s 8th Stryker Brigade in January.
According to 2nd Lt. Paul Brannan, a Stryker Vehicle Commander with B. Company, 4-17 Inf., the Stryker MGS qualification marks the gain of major asset to the Ready First Combat Team for the brigade’s scheduled deployment in late 2012.
“The MGS is an infantry support vehicle; it will save many lives by providing protection and support for the soldiers on the ground with its flexibility and accuracy,” he said.
Sgt. 1st Class T.J. Labarre, the Brigade’s master gunner, added the Stryker MGS will be the Infantry soldiers best friend during the deployment.
“The main gun provides direct fires in support to Infantry soldiers, engages stationary and mobile enemy targets, such as bunkers to create a combined arms effect of overmatched firepower that improves survivability of the combat team,” said Labarre.
“The MGS is the Infantry’s best friend,” he said.