News: ANA conducts corps-wide live-fire, cannoneers hit the mark
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher Blakeslee
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, Afghanistan–Soldiers assigned to the 205th Corps of the Afghan National Army recently conducted a corps-wide live-fire exercise held April 6, 2013. This keystone event was the pinnacle of several months of cannoneer training which took place at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Zabul Province, Afghanistan.
This exercise was supervised by a staff of multinational military personnel from the United States, Romania, Australia and the Slovak Republic. The advisers appeared to be well-received by the ANA soldiers, who eagerly absorbed all the knowledge they could from these professional artillerymen.
“We have worked for several months with soldiers from around the world,” said Sgt. Azar Mohammad, a cannon crew member assigned to the 4th Kandak, 205th Corp., ANA. “From fire direction control training, to manning the D-30 122mm Howitzer cannons on the firing line, or just learning how to fix and maintain the big guns has all been top-notch.”
The ANA soldiers appeared to have grasped this training so well that they earned some praise and respect from their military advisors.
“They really get it,” said Sergeant 1st Class John Lewis, a cannon crewmember assigned to C. Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Viking, 2nd Infantry Division. “The ANA were really excited about this training and grasped it pretty well. They gave it all they could every day and it shows in how well they are functioning now as a coherent and fluid gun teams.”
While the training and live-fire was the culmination of months of hard work, the ANA soldiers turned this into somewhat of a competition amongst themselves.
“The Afghan soldiers are having fun doing the drills and they race to see who can set up, load and prepare to fire the quickest,” said Sergeant Maj. Viorel Pruteanu, a field artilleryman assigned to the 25th Field Artillery Unit, 8th Field Artillery Brigade, Romanian Army and ANA advisor. “They [ANA] get loud and cheer for one another as the set up the D-30s…I think they may even talk a little trash to one another if they lose.”
A live-fire of the corps’s D-30 cannons capped-off this training cycle. The live-fire was meant to boost the ANA leadership’s confidence in the soldiers' 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 Howitzer cannons and hit said identified target in a timely and precise manner.
“The ANA artillerymen performed their tasks with precision, and the professionalism of a highly-trained and cohesive force,” said Pruteanu. “There is no doubt in my mind that, given the chance to perform in actual combat, they [ANA] will hit their mark each and every time.”
While the soldiers of the 205th Corps have learned vital new skills and honed them during the corps live-fire exercise, it’s their positive attitudes and ability to put these new skills to practical use that makes them a boon to the ANA military leadership. This team of artillerymen has proven that with time, patience and a little bit of training–they can indeed strike their targets with deadly accuracy, making them a force to be reckoned with.