Fire support soldiers certify on FO skills

4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth

Date: 12.12.2013
Posted: 01.02.2014 12:31
News ID: 118743
Fire support soldiers certify on FO skills

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Soldiers of 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division participated in fire support certifications Dec. 2-12, here.

The certification tested soldiers’ individual fire support specialist skills based on the training circular for field artillery gunnery including hands-on evaluations of radio proficiency, map reading and use of the M2 compass.

Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Alvarado, the brigade Fire Effects Coordination Cell noncommissioned officer in charge, led the certifications.

“The certification gives commanders confidence in their forward observers,” Alvarado said. “(It lets) them know that (the fire support soldiers) can perform their function as a forward observer and (are) able to call for and adjust indirect fires and close air support.”

Due to time constraints and the brigade’s springtime inactivation, the creators of the certification had to condense it and use simulators instead of training areas for the call-for-fire portion of the test.

Though the brigade will not exist as of next March, it is important for soldiers to maintain their skills.

Spc. Derek Jackson, a fire support specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4-2 SBCT, is slated to report to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, once the brigade inactivates. He said that certifying is a way to show his future supervisors he is competent in his job.

“We want (4-2 SBCT) to have a good reputation when they send off soldiers and ensure that the future commanders know that they’re getting quality soldiers,” said Jackson.

Though there were issues that occurred, they did not stop the certifications, said Alvarado.

“We had some tasks that popped up, but our fire supporters rolled with it,” Alvarado said. “They were able to conduct their training and were able to complete the fire support certification to standard.”