FORT BRAGG, N.C. - At nearly $20 thousand dollars per round, these gps guided, multi-fuse, procession mortar rounds we can deliver some real fire power. The 4th Brigade Combat Team’s Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 321st Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, is the first Army Unit to fire these rounds in the United States.
The new Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative system was issued to the Battalion approximately a month ago and our Bravo Battery has been training on the equipment for today’s live fire.
“We have only received classroom training on this system and look forward to seeing what it is able to do in a field environment with the 120mm round,” said Sgt. Alan Johnson, a Fire Support specialist, C Company, 2-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
The Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative System has been a DOD development project since the need was identified from Unit experience during Operation Enduring Freedom. The 120 mm mortar round, computer system and software functionality was developed through phases and field trials. Systems were developed and interoperability between Armed Services and software was key to making this effective.
The precision guided mortar rounds and operating systems have been used in Afghanistan but, not in the United States until today. The project manager mortar systems, head of project fielding, issued to 4th Brigade full systems just last month in our preparation to train for our next OEF rotation.
In talking with the 2-321st Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Philip Raymond, he provided an analogy of the 120mm PGM capability. Having the precision guided mortar capability [at the battalion maneuver level] “is essentially like giving the commander a quick firing, precisely effective 120 mm sniper round.”
The APMI rounds were fired from B Battery’s 120 mm mortar tubes over Observation Post 8 on Fort Bragg. The mortar guncrews were made up of 11C, Indirect Fire Infantrymen and 13B, Cannon Crewmen assigned to B Battery. The rounds effectiveness on target were observed by Forward Observers from all of 4th Brigade’s Maneuver Battalions.
“This is a great learning experience. We are basically learning a MOS and a new system all at once,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Bader, who is a Cannon Crewmen with B Battery. “With the precision of this system we should hit the target every time which will minimize collateral damage and harm to civilians.
“Everything is digital and that helps to provided greater accuracy,” said Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Grayson, an Indirect Fire Infantrymen assigned to 2-321, who has been training Paratroopers to use this system. “It makes the job easier and faster with the ability to hit a target with fewer rounds.”
The PGM missiles and mortar systems will be an organic weapons system under the 4th Brigade Combat Team’s Maneuver Battalions.