JERICHO, Vt. -With the road to the Joint Readiness Training Center getting shorter each day, soldiers of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) are doing all they can to ensure their readiness meets the high standards they set for themselves. This weekend, for example, the soldiers with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment recently participated in training designed to give their scouts and forward observers a better understanding of how to make a Call for Fire at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, March 15.
A call for fire, or CFF, is a concise message prepared by a forward observer, according to Army Field Manual 6-30. The manual states that a CFF is a request for fire, not an order. It must be sent quickly, but clearly enough that it can be understood, recorded, and read back without error.
Sgt. 1st Class Seth Wilkinson, Fire Support NCO for 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment conducted the training. He said the class aims to educate the forward observers on the basics of calling for indirect fire.
“When [the scouts] are operating in the field they may not always be with their direct fire weapons,” said Wilkinson. “They may need to be able to call on the battalion or FA (Field Artillery) assets in order to engage the enemy with indirect fire at a greater distance than they would be able to with their direct fire.”
The goal, he said, is to ensure that these scouts don’t get themselves into a compromised situation.
He considers using the computerized simulator close enough to the real thing to prepare these soldiers for future operations. At first glance, the projected image displayed by the simulation projector looks like an empty field in the middle of nowhere. Upon further inspection, small vehicles dot the landscape. These are the targets the scouts are attempting to destroy using the skills learned during the instructional portion of the class. In order to accurately aim the weapons of the Field Artillery units, they have to use proper measurement techniques and procedures. Artillery rounds can be devastating, requiring a ‘measure twice, cut once’ approach to ensure minimal collateral damage.
“The trainer is relatively realistic,” said Wilkinson. “Obviously, you can never substitute live rounds in a simulator, however this is as close as you can get to actually firing live rounds.”
It is quite possible these soldiers will have to demonstrate what they have learned soon. At JRTC, the entire 86th IBCT will be involved in war-gaming simulations, with live rounds thrown into the mix.
“They possibly will [shoot rounds] live at JRTC,” said Wilkinson. “Certainly, I foresee them having to do that. “
The 86th IBCT has been training on various tactics, techniques and procedures for the past few years, with a focus on demonstrating their abilities at JRTC this summer.