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    US team trains, certifies Afghan soldiers on the big guns

    US team trains, certifies Afghan soldiers on the big guns

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Margaret Taylor | An Afghan National Army soldier from 4th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, braces...... read more read more

    KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Sept. 5, 2013) – The Afghan National Army artillery crew relayed the projectile and propellant canisters to their weapon, loaded it, verified the coordinates, shouted a warning to clear the area and then pulled the lanyard.

    The resulting concussion from the D-30 122 mm howitzer shook the ground and sent clouds of dust skyward. A few seconds later, the round exploded on a mountainside across the valley more than eight kilometers away.

    The live-fire exercise marked the final day of a certification class the ANA soldiers from 4th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, completed at Forward Operating Base Tagab, Kapisa province, Afghanistan, Sept. 5.

    Their instructors were U.S. Army soldiers from Battery B, 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, who traveled from FOB Gamberi in Laghman province to conduct training on the D-30 weapon system.

    “Our purpose here at FOB Tagab is to train and certify the D-30 crews,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Adam Roberts, of Rockledge, Fla., the D-30 training team platoon leader with Battery B. “That includes the fire direction center, the actual gun line crew and their forward observers.”

    Of Soviet make, the D-30 is a heavy artillery weapon capable of engaging targets more than 15 kilometers away and currently serves as one of the ANA’s primary artillery systems.

    “The D-30 takes the battle over the horizon to the enemy,” Roberts said.

    When a weapon is capable of hitting targets too distant for the eye to see, he continued, the process for target selection and engagement is complex. Forward observers out in the field call map coordinates back to the base; then, the fire direction center clears friendly forces from the ground and air space around the target; once cleared, the gun line crews plot the coordinates, aim their weapons and fire.

    Just as with target selection and engagement, the certification process for the D-30 crews involved several steps spread out over four days.

    The certification started with a written test, said Sgt. 1st Class Allen Simmons, of Lake City, Fla., Battery B’s senior adviser for the D-30 and a battalion-level master gunner. Following the written exam, Afghan soldiers’ knowledge was tested regarding the various crew and command positions. The certification concluded with weapon maintenance and a live-fire exercise.

    “The main thing we want them to get out of this is the importance of crew drills and the importance of cross training,” Simmons said. “That way, if one person is gone, there’s someone else who can step up for him and perform the task.”

    In addition, Battery B also brought with them from Gamberi a team of ANA trainers who will take over the D-30 training in the coming months.

    Roberts said he thinks the progress the gun line crews, the fire direction center personnel and especially the ANA trainers have made is very heartening.

    “Hopefully in five to seven months the ANA team will be in the lead completely,” said Roberts. “That’s the long-term goal.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.05.2013
    Date Posted: 09.13.2013 01:36
    Story ID: 113558
    Location: KAPISA PROVINCE, AF 
    Hometown: LAKE CITY, FL, US
    Hometown: RIVERSIDE, CA, US
    Hometown: ROCKLEDGE, FL, US

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