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    Using indirect fire to directly strengthen NATO partnership

    Firing mortars down range

    Photo By Sgt. Marcus Floyd | U.S. Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Marcus Floyd 

    7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    CAMP KONOTOP, Poland — Sitting atop a M1064 mortar carrier, a squad of mortar men cover their ears, shielding them from the thundering boom of highly explosive rounds launching into the sky. Off in the distance smoke blooms into the air, signaling a direct hit, and the target destroyed.

    Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division shot mortar rounds May 5, 2015, at Camp Konotop, Poland.

    “We're running our [mortar live fire] training exercises, running different missions and shooting some live rounds,” said Charlotte, North Carolina, native Pvt. Jeffrey Jean Baptiste, a mortar man with HHC, 2nd Bn., 7th Inf. Reg., 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div. “It's pretty cool, and it should be a good day.”

    Additionally, the platoon is rehearsing a firing technique called direct lay which is when the Soldiers actually look down the sights of their gun tubes and engage a target straight on their gun tube without receiving any information from the fire direction center.

    “It gives [the Soldiers] the experience they need to be able to succeed in the future once they move up the chain and become senior level [non-commissioned officers],” said 1st. Lt Jimmy Byrn, an armor officer from Poquoson, Virginia, with HHC, 2nd Bn., 7th Inf. Reg., 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div. “Additionally, it gives our senior level NCOs a chance to coach and mentor these soldiers as they execute the individual task and drills that are required of them to be proficient at their job.”

    However, coming to Poland is about more than simply training. In addition to training, the Soldiers are getting the opportunity to not only interact with the Polish community, but with multiple NATO allies as part of Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing multinational partnership focused on joint training and security cooperation between NATO allies, whose mission is the continued peace and stability of Europe.

    For Soldiers like Jean Baptiste, who's been to Europe once before, Poland offers new experiences.

    “It's my second time being in Europe,” said Jean Baptiste. “I went to Paris with my mom a couple of years ago, but it's different with the Army. I'm getting to see a lot of different things as well as work with different militaries such as the French and the Canadians as well as the Polish army, and the people seem very welcoming themselves.”

    Throughout their training exercise, the platoon of mortar men cooperated with different nations operating as the forward observers.

    “We're utilizing forward observers from our allies the Canadians, as well as the French, who are calling for fire to our fire direction center, and we're running missions based off the data they're giving us to help improve our indirect fires' interoperability with other NATO countries,” said Byrn, the platoon leader. “It's important we're able to do this training in Poland because it gives us a unique opportunity to work with our NATO allies in a deployed training environment.”

    Being able to participate in Atlantic Resolve not only strengthens relationships, but presents a unique opportunity to show potential adversaries in the region and around the world that these allies can work together effectively, Byrn said.

    “Sometimes we may approach training differently than another nation … and part of being able to ally with those nations is learning how [one another] approaches training and then finding a way to work together and to meld those viewpoints together to create a successful operation,” said Byrn.

    Despite their training differences, the value of joint training is evident.

    “We've got three different nations working together to bring indirect fires down on a target,” he said, “and anytime you're able to do that effectively, it sends a very important message to the world and to any potential enemies we may face.”



    Date Taken: 05.07.2015
    Date Posted: 05.07.2015 16:25
    Story ID: 162603
    Location: CAMP KONOTOP, PL
    Hometown: CHARLOTTE, NC, US
    Hometown: POQUOSON, VA, US

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