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    4ID Mortar Teams Persevere at the Best Mortar Competition

    Teams Compete on Day Two of the 2023 Best Mortar Competition

    Photo By Capt. Alexander Werden | Spc. Jordan Sherey, Sgt. Cameron Rogers, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rodriguez, and Pvt....... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Alexander Werden 

    4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

    FORT BENNING, Ga. - For over 75 hours in the southern heat and humidity, two mortar teams from the 4th Infantry Division were tested physically, mentally, technically, and tactically during the 2023 Best Mortar Competition hosted by the Mortar Training Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Training Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia. Both the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team fielded teams to vie for the top spot in this year’s competition. The 11C, Indirect Fire Infantrymen, on both teams frequently train on their assigned mortar systems, in order to maintain readiness while prepared to deploy and fight and win our Nation’s wars on a moment’s notice. The teams had just weeks to focus on the additional skills that would be tested as they ran and rucked their way across Fort Benning.
    1st SBCT’s team, consisting of Staff Sgt. Autumn Clark, Sgt. Austin High, and Pfc. Justin Wade from 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, and Spc. Samuel Herbert from 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, turned to other units to borrow equipment so they could train on the various systems that the competition would feature.
    “1st and 3rd Brigade collaborated on our training with the 120mm ground-mounted system and with 81mm and 60mm systems. We focused a lot on the FDC (Fire Direction Control) and PT (Physical Training) for the competition,” said Clark.
    3rd ABCT’s team of Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rodriguez, Sgt. Cameron Rogers, Spc. Jordan Sherey, and Pvt. Jaguar Super all trained together with the same unit - 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment - but were new to working together as a mortar team of four. Super just graduated from Advanced Individual Training with 1-19 Infantry in November of 2022 and reported to his first duty station at Fort Carson in December, before returning to be graded by the very same instructors who taught him to be a mortarman just months before.
    “Before I left Fort Benning from OSUT (One Station Unit Training), I never thought I’d be back here, and here I am four months later going against the best mortars in the Army and getting some really good training out of it. It’s honestly pretty great,” stated Super.
    “The majority of our team just got back from a rotation in Europe, and we just received Pvt. Super who graduated from Infantry OSUT. We did the best we could with a short amount of time trying to cram in all of the training that we could, with FDC, plotting boards, gunners exams, and working with systems that the majority of us don’t often get to touch,” noted Rodriguez, highlighting how their team’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) allowed them to integrate their new teammate successfully.
    While it was their first hands-on experience employing indirect fires from all of the mortar systems featured in the competition within a short time span, the 4th Inf. Div.’s teams had never competed head-to-head against units from other Army divisions, the 75th Ranger Regiment, the Marine Corps, the Texas National Guard, and the Netherlands. The competition featured live fire exercises, LFXs, on all three sizes of mortar systems in the Army’s arsenal - the 60mm mortar, 81mm mortar, and 120mm mortar - as well as marksmanship with the M4A1 Carbine and the M17 Pistol. Physical challenges, such as the Expert Physical Fitness Assessment, an obstacle course, and a timed ruck march of unknown distance. Land navigation, written examinations on fire direction procedures and the characteristics, capabilities, and components of mortars, analog fire direction procedures using maps, protractors, and a plotting board, and several other events were also included.
    “The most difficult part of the whole competition for myself was overcoming the difference in training between a light unit at Fort Campbell and a heavy unit at Fort Carson [after PCSing there]. You lose the light world with the 60mm and 81mm systems when you are only training with the 120mm one. It was something I had to adjust to and bring out from the back of my memory,” noted Rogers. Meanwhile, the FDC events proved more difficult for junior members of the teams.
    “The hardest part of the competition was the FDC events. Being a new private, I’ve only really trained on that for about two weeks. Given the questions and not having the mounting azimuth and other data then having to find it was the hardest part,” Wade said.
    At the end of the last event, an 81mm mortar LFX featuring the Lightweight Handheld Mortar Ballistic Computer, the 3rd ABCT’s competitors finished in 20th place, and the 1st SBCT’s competitors from 1-66 AR achieved a 17th-place finish.
    “I joined the Army for some excitement and adventure and I definitely got it here. This competition helped me be a better mortarman and I got a lot of really good training on all of the systems,” said Sherey after finishing the last event. Herbert, the only member of the 1st SBCT team not from 2-1 Cavalry, found himself yelling over the sound of outgoing mortar rounds during the 81mm LFX to help his team set their mortar system up.
    “Overall, it’s been a great learning experience being able to work with other competitors from all the other units and branches. We had the Marines here and Soldiers from the Netherlands, and working alongside each other has helped us learn how to become better and I’ll take that back to my unit,” Sherey said.
    The perseverance of the 4th Inf. Div. mortar teams demonstrated their steadfast determination to support each other and keep fighting until the last event finished. When asked just minutes after the conclusion of the awards ceremony if they would do it again, several of the Ivy Soldiers responded nearly in unison: “yes.”




    Date Taken: 04.13.2023
    Date Posted: 04.14.2023 13:18
    Story ID: 442618
    Location: FORT BENNING, GA, US
    Hometown: ALBUQUERQUE, NM, US
    Hometown: COMPTON, CA, US
    Hometown: COPPEROPOLIS, CA, US
    Hometown: DALLAS, TX, US
    Hometown: DESTIN, FL, US
    Hometown: KNOXVILLE, TN, US
    Hometown: NEW RICHMOND, OH, US
    Hometown: PORTLAND, OR, US

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