News: New crews qualify on Mobile Gun System
Story by Sgt. Mark Miranda
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – Stryker crews assigned to 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment have been at Yakima Training Center conducting gunnery qualification on the Mobile Gun System.
A vocal cue of “send it” radioed in fro m the range tower mobilizes the waiting Stryker crew. Within seconds a quick flash and a plume of smoke shoots from the gun barrel. The percussive blast flattens and scorches the grass around the vehicle, and off in the distance the round impacts the side of a mountain spraying rocks and dirt in every direction.
The tower sends feedback to the Stryker crew over the radio.
Since mid-July, Stryker crews assigned to 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment have been at Yakima Training Center conducting gunnery qualification on the Mobile Gun System.
“It’s a requirement that we qualify about every six months, but it’s also for bragging rights to be identified as your unit’s top gun,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Jordan, an armor crewman from Trenton, Ill. Assigned to A Company, 1-17th Inf. Bn.
A Stryker with the Mobile Gun System configuration carries a General Dynamics 105mm tank cannon in a low-profile, stabilized turret. Its armor protects a three-soldier crew from small arms fire, mortar and artillery fragments on the battlefield.
Carrying a full load of ammunition, the Stryker MGS can fire 18 rounds of 105-mm main gun ammunition; 400 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition; and 3,400 rounds of 7.62-mm ammunition.
“It’s very similar to the reconnaissance vehicles we trained on in AIT,” said Pvt. Christopher Shampo, an armor crewman from Flint, Mich. new to the MGS-equipped Strykers.
“It’s a good combination of firepower and mobility, great for fighting in urban areas,” added Shampo, who joined the Army in January and is assigned to C Company, 1-17th Inf. Bn.
The MGS Stryker operates with the latest command and control communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; as well as detectors for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Part of gunnery qualification requires the crews to train by performing seven table drills that include firing weapon systems in different scenarios to include operating in a hostile environment where chemical weapons have been deployed by the enemy. The crews run drills to calibrate the weapons and conduct dry-fire runs as part of the train-up for gunnery qualification.
“Time disqualifies a lot of crews. You lose five points for safety violations, 30 points cut for crew errors, for example, firing the main gun before announcing: ‘On the way,’” said Jordan.
Crew members learn to work with one another, learn to rely on each individual’s abilities; the vehicle commander’s ability to find the targets for the gunner to engage, the gunner’s ability to quickly and accurately engage those targets, and the driver’s responsiveness to directions. The team learns to work cohesively under stressed conditions.
“Tables four through seven are where crews want to learn from their mistakes, work out problems. It’s not an issue to fail as long as the crew demonstrates improvement all the way up to actual gunnery qualification on table eight,” said Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Campbell, a platoon sergeant with A Company, 1-17th Inf. Bn.
“The hardest thing is learning to work with each other, and most of these are new crews. But after a while they can start to anticipate each other, and that’s what I’m seeing – from the freshest lieutenant to the private just out of basic training − they are all getting better,” said Campbell.