News: ANA proves skill at calling for fire; American, Romanian advisors amazed at skill and tenacity of cannoneers
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher Blakeslee
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, Afghanistan - A team of Afghanistan National Army forward observers has a group of enemy combatants in sight - using a range finder they ascertain an exact location within a short distance of where this group is standing. One soldier picks up the hand receiver of his radio to relay this crucial information to waiting artillery crew members several miles away and in a few short minutes doom will be unleashed upon the unsuspecting terrorist.
While this scenario is a descriptive narrative, similar events could actually happen at any time here thanks to the 10-week training cycle the soldiers of the 4th Kandak, 205th Corps of the ANA recently completed at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Zabul province, Afghanistan, Feb. 9.
"This was a 10-week course that took the ANA soldiers through the crawl, walk, run stages of becoming competent field artillery soldiers and a team," said Sgt. 1st Class John Lewis, a cannon crew member assigned to C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Task Force Viking.
“The ANA were really excited about this training and grasped it pretty well. They gave it all they could every day, and it shows now at the end of this cycle.”
While the training and live-fire qualification test was a big hit with the ANA, it was not without some roadblocks the ANA, Americans and Romanians had to overcome in order to reach the live-fire portion of this course.
“During this course the American and Romanian advisers had to teach math classes to the ANA, on top of teaching artillery field craft…The language barrier is also something that continues to be a problem, but the ANA was tenacious in learning and grasped everything well,” said Sgt. Maj. Viorel Pruteanu, a field artilleryman assigned to the Romanian 25th Field Artillery Unit, 8th Field Artillery Brigade. “Their [ANA] positive attitudes and enthusiasm showed during the training and continues to show through the live-fire exercise they are doing today.”
To cap off this training event was a live-fire of the D-30 122mm Howitzers. This event was meant to boost the ANA’s ability to observe a target, call in coordinates to a fire direction control center, relay the proper calculations to the waiting gun lines, fire their Howitzers and hit said identified target in a timely and precise manner. ANA soldiers executed this fire mission with fiery gusto.
“The ANA was pretty fired up during the live-fire exercise,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Hawn, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, Combined Task Force Raider. “The ANA have come a long way from the start of this class. It’s fun to watch their excitement when they get a fire mission and actually fire the D30 and hit their target far away.”
While the soldiers of the 4th Kandak, 205th Corps, ANA have learned a vital new skill, it’s their positive attitudes and willingness to step out of their comfort zones which makes them a force to be reckoned with. Additionally, this team of cannoneers has proven that with time, patience and a little bit of training, they can indeed strike their targets with deadly panache, much like their Romanian and American counterparts. Fire for effect, over!
This work, ANA proves skill at calling for fire; American, Romanian advisors amazed at skill and tenacity of cannoneers, by SSG Christopher Blakeslee, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.