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    Stinger teams enhance 1ABCT lethality

    Stinger teams add lethality to IRONHORSE brigade

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Christopher Case | A FIM-92 Stinger missile fired by a Stinger team from 1ABCT, 1CD flies towards its...... read more read more

    Ustka, Poland— From a firing point overlooking the Baltic Sea, a launcher emits a high-pitch tone that signifies target acquisition. A sudden cloud of smoke and the report of near-instant Mach-speed flight, an FIM-92 missile is on its way. Five seconds and two kilometers away, an explosion occurs as a Stinger team scores a direct hit on an “Outlaw” drone being remotely flown in a futile attempt to evade the incoming projectile.
    On Wednesday, history was made as Soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division demonstrated their recently acquired skills after a month-long course of instruction. It is historic because it is the first time an armored brigade conducted training that certified Soldiers with an ASI (Additional Skill Identifier) as well as firing a live missile, whereby previously fire-missions are normally shot at a virtual range.
    The journey towards this skill-set began during the brigade’s last NTC (National Training Center) rotation when several Soldiers attended a course taught at Fort Sill, Okla. to acquire the certification necessary to become qualified Stinger team operators. Fast-forward to the brigade’s current training rotation where a follow-on class was established and taught by Staff Sgt. Bryan Melby, a 14G (Air Defense Battlefield Management Operator) assigned to the brigade’s headquarters location in Zagan, Poland.
    It was an arduous task to find out the steps required in setting up this class.
    “It involved a lot more than just setting up a course of instruction. For instance, it was important to find out who was the POC regarding certification of the crews thereby both legitimizing and legalizing the entire process. We had Staff Sgt. Randall Norris, a Master Gunner, Staff Sgt. Andrew Wolboldt and Sgt Jesse Thomas from 2-263rd ADA, South Carolina National Guard providing for that aspect.” Melby continued, “There was also the tasks of ensuring proper course instruction and materials. We had to draw up all the phases such as PQT (pre-qualification training) for the first week (for those that did not attend the Fort Sill course) and then during the subsequent three weeks, instruction regarding how to properly identify aircraft, weapon system PMCS, how to track and engage and ultimately a 45-question test that graded their ability to put all of it together. These teams now understand how the weapon system works, the correct placement of the launcher, how it feels to fire it and successfully engage a target and destroy it.” He also added, “There were also the tasks involving procuring missiles as well as the arrangement of range time and location. It was awesome that the Polish Air Force provided us a location enabling us to conduct operations to complete the certification for our teams.”
    Specialist Brandon Helton, likewise a brigade Air Defense Battlefield Management Operator, also provided SME instruction. As the Soldier within the brigade with the most VSD (Virtual Stinger Dome) hours he is wholly qualified to instruct soldiers and ensure their knowledge required for Stinger team operator qualification.
    Helton commented, “It was awesome to watch the crews go out and effectively put all the steps that we taught them together and bring down the drone.”
    When the course began the attendees were given incentive to do well. There were three hard-to-come-by missiles available to fire at the end of course range. The three teams that scored the highest points on practical exams throughout the course would get to fire those missiles. The competition was stiff. In the end those three teams were comprised of:
    Specialist Joseph Margi, Power Generator Equipment Operator, 1-82 FA
    Sergeant Jawon Love, Fire Direction Specialist, 1-82 FA
    Private First-Class Justin Wilson, Infantryman, Charlie Company, 2-12 CAV
    Sergeant Tyler Huston, Infantryman, Charlie Company, 2-12 CAV
    Specialist Keanu Vargas, Infantryman, 2-5 CAV
    Sergeant Robert Crickenberger, Infantryman, 2-5 CAV
    The chance of a lifetime to fire these missiles was not lost on these teams.
    Specialist Margi talked about how he learned so much more than how to utilize the Stinger.
    “It gave me a lot of knowledge regarding land navigation and plotting OP’s (observation posts), things that I can employ during a real combat operation.” He continued, “It was exhilarating firing the Stinger. I was nervous at first, but once the missile leaves the tube, well, it was great feeling.”
    Private First-Class Wilson took the initial course at Fort Sill, so he was already qualified. Attending the Zagan class enabled him to refresh his abilities.
    “Running through the tables and the virtual Stinger dome, definitely helped prepare me for today’s shot.” Wilson added, “It was really fun and an experience that nobody in my unit has. I can go back to my unit and teach others how to utilize the system.”
    These Soldiers are now considered subject matter experts (SME’s) and will return to their respective units and spread the wealth of knowledge that they have acquired and ultimately provide the brigade with enhanced capabilities and combat effectiveness of an already lethal armored combat team. It brings a third-dimensional capability allowing ground and maneuver elements reach out much further than they were previously used to. With a range of 6,000 meters of destructive power, the ability to destroy enemy air platforms is greatly multiplied.



    Date Taken: 10.17.2018
    Date Posted: 10.24.2018 08:17
    Story ID: 297486
    Location: PL

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