News: Group effort key to tank gunnery
Story by Capt. Chad Cooper
FORT IRWIN, Calif. — For most soldiers, it only requires one person to operate a weapon. But, when your weapon weighs more than 65 tons and has 120 mm cannon, it takes a group effort.
Tank crews from H Company, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, pulled their collective knowledge and experience to complete Tables 2-6 for the 2/11 ACR Tank Gunnery at Range 1 on Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 17-23.
The tank gunnery provided the soldiers with the opportunity to actually learn how to fight with a tank. Tankers must know how to fire all weapons systems on a tank. Also, tankers not only have to know how to fire the weapons systems, but they must learn how to fire them during the day, at night, in a defensive position, in an offensive position and while wearing protective gear, in case of a possible chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack.
“The best part about gunnery is all of it,” said Spc. Mathew Marshall, a tank gunner with H Company, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. “You get three hours of sleep a night and then you get back in your tank and it doesn’t really bother you because it is a lot of fun. It gives you a chance to bond with the crew.”
Unlike an aircraft that takes one or two personnel to operate, the M1 Abrams takes four. The tank commander, driver, gunner and loader all have to work together in order to make the tank work and to make it combat-effective.
“There is no key position in a tank, there really isn’t,” said Sgt. Allen J. Carrick, a tank commander with H Company, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. “It is a full crew effort. If the driver doesn’t do his job, the tank doesn’t perform. If the loader doesn’t do his job, the tank doesn’t perform. It’s 99 percent chemistry and cohesion. You have to know that you can work with that soldier is close quarters and trust them to do the right thing because that is a 120 mm cannon.”