News: 2-12 Field Artillery fired up for Fires Week
Story by Sgt. Jacqueline Fennell
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash.- Like the moving parts of a synchronized machine, members of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, “Raider Brigade,” used more than their individual skills to send rounds down range. They worked accurately, effectively and timely, but most importantly, they displayed teamwork in executing collective tasks at the company level during Fires Week.
Forward Observers stationed on three outposts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, April 9-13, scanned their sectors of fire before calling in training fire missions with their radios to a fire direction center using the Fire Support Sensor System (FS3).
The FS3 provides the ability to detect, recognize, identify and geo-locate targets in order to transmit data to the FDC which relays the data to cannon crew members of gun batteries that deliver indirect fire on their targets.
Fires Week recognized top performing howitzer sections, FDC’s, and Fire Support Teams (FIST) through a certification process which allows them to build core competencies in their craft for future contingency operations by adding the motivation of competing for the Best FIST, Top Gun and Top FDC in the Raider Brigade.
Although the certification process is a standard requirement, what made the Best FIST certification unique was the level at which it was done, said Maj. William C. Pruett, Fire Support Officer, 4-2 SBCT, adding that the focus was on certifying collective tasks associated with the fire support team at the company level instead of the individual task level.
“I haven’t seen a company fire support certification to this standard in many years and it is fairly difficult to achieve.” said Pruett.
Gun battery field artillery elements, from the Raider Brigade, played a critical part in support of the Best FIST competition by providing fires. From the section chief all the way down to the cannon crew member, there is no room for errors, and the importance of team has a meaning that only those in arms may fully understand.
“Team is everything,” said Spc. Nicholas Cottingham, gunner and cannon crew member, 2nd Platoon, 2-12 Field Artillery Battalion, 4-2 SBCT. “That’s all this is. It’s a crew drill so everybody has a role and knows their part so we can stand in for each other.”
Standing in for each other is how troops survive on the battlefield.
Sgt. 1st Class Edgar Covarrubias, platoon sergeant, B Battery, 2-12, said he fully understands how important it is to provide fires for his brothers in arms when they are in trouble because he served as an infantry man during his first two deployments.
“I saw the big picture,” said Covarrubias about his impact as a field artillery cannon operator on the mission during his last deployment to Afghanistan. “By providing fire in support of infantry guys when they received contact by the enemy, they were able to move, see the road or the enemy at night.”
Fires Week strikes at the heart of the mission essential criteria for creating tactical advantages in combat for the Raider Brigade.
“The Raider Brigade takes pride in its fire supporters and its ability to integrate fires with movement to create maneuvers,” said Pruett about the Raider Brigade’s vision. Fires Week was a way for the Raider Brigade to accomplish the fires portion of that equation, added Pruett.
Following the rigors of intense efforts, the competitors waited with anticipation for the results of three events, the Top FDC, the Top Gun, and Best FIST competitions.
A Company, from 1-38 Infantry Battalion, took first place for the Best FIST competition. 2nd Section, C Battery, 2-12 claimed first place for the Top Gun competition, and 1st Section, A Battery, 2-12 placed first in the Top FDC competition.