News: Real-life Halo: Soldiers learn advancements in modern warfare weapons technology
Story by Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The 7th Infantry Division hosted their first ever Weapons, Ammunition and Devices Symposium Jan. 24 and 25, at various locations on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The first days of the symposium featured speakers and displays, while the second day afforded soldiers a chance for more hands-on training at the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 and with a live-fire range.
Soldiers from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Stryker Combat Brigades, 2nd Infantry Division; 16th Combat Aviation Brigade; 17th Fires Brigade and 555th Engineer Brigade participated in the WADS, as well as Soldiers from Headquarters Support Company, 7th Inf. Div.
The 7th Infantry Division provides mission command and training oversight for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Stryker Brigades of the 2nd Infantry Division, the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, and the 17th Fires Brigade when these units are not deployed in support of overseas contingency operations. The mission of the 7th ID is to provide trained, ready, and disciplined brigades prepared for deployment in support of combatant commanders.
“We had approximately 150 soldiers in the academic portion and 30 soldiers for the EST and range,” Lt. Col. Bruce Beyers, the 7th Inf. Div. Chief of Operations, and Burien, Wash., native.
Aside from the Soldiers participating in the event, representatives from Aimpoint Inc., the Warfighter Ammunition Information Program (WAIP), the Army National Guard Sniper School, and ELCAN Optical Technologies provided soldiers with seminars about how their technologies are being employed on the battlefield.
Representatives from Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier were also on hand to talk to soldiers and answer any questions they may have had about the equipment they were handling. The PEO Soldier is the Army acquisition agency responsible for nearly everything a Soldier wears or carries.
Beyers' oversaw the training from its inception, and has spent nearly four months ensuring every last detail was in place so Soldiers were afforded the best weapons training possible to fulfill requirements established by Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, 7th Inf. Div. commanding general.
Lanza said he believes it’s not about the patch each Soldier within the division wears, because they are all on the same team.
“We are building a ‘Team of Teams,’” Lanza said about the symposium.
The goal of the symposium was to develop professional leaders by educating them on the characteristics and capabilities of small arms weapons systems with the 7th Inf. Div., as well as to gain insight into the emerging weapon systems technologies, Beyers explained.
“We want to spread resident knowledge of weapons, ammunition, and devices. We want [the soldier] to know what [they] don’t know about weapons systems— internal, external, and terminal ballistics,” Beyers added.
For one noncommissioned officer, the symposium was a chance for him to see how much the Army has invested into the development of soldier technologies.
“It has been wonderful. Seeing the optics and using them has been very eye opening,” said Staff Sgt. David Irby, an Electronic Warfare NCO with 17th Fires Brigade.
“It makes me confident of where the Army is going in technology,” added the Jackson, Miss., native.
Irby said the best part of the two-day WADS was the live-fire range, because he was able to put everything he learned about on day one into practical use.
“It’s been one of the best ranges and classrooms I’ve done. Even Mother Nature participated—all sun, no rain,” Irby said.
Beyers said a second iteration of WADS is already in the planning stages, and he hopes to have another one following the return of the majority of aoldiers from 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.