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Feature Stories

NEWS | Nov. 3, 2016

US Infantry Soldiers Assault Through the Desert: Live Fire Exercise

By Sgt. Angela Lorden U.S. Army Central

Infantry Soldiers, indirect fire infantrymen and forward observers with 77th Armored Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, conducted a squad live-fire exercise Oct. 31 through Nov. 3 at Udari Range near Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

The four-day training event synchronized the capabilities of ground infantry assets and indirect fire support to prepare for any mission U.S. Army Central requires.

“This exercise enhances USARCENT’s readiness,” said Capt. Chris Grauel, the commander of Charger Company, 1st Battalion, 77th AR. “We’re ready to fight tonight.”

Soldiers were required to tactically move as a squad, react to enemy contact, call for indirect fire, assault and clear a bunker and hastily assume defensive positions.

“We have to be ready to fight where the Army needs us,” Grauel said. “Training maintains our ability to be ready at a moment’s notice.”

All of Charger Co.’s nine-man squads rotated through the training lane over the course of the exercise. Each squad reinforced their proficiency by executing a walk-through phase, a blank-ammunition phase and a live-fire phase.

“People learn through repetition,” Grauel said. “[Training] in this environment, in this climate, on this terrain, is great for us.”

While infantrymen performed their tactical movements, mortars were used to provide indirect, suppressive fire. Mortars are weapons that fire high-angle projectiles.

“Indirect fires allow us to get in close to the objective, so we can be effective with our machine guns and our small-arms fire,” Grauel said.

The mortar rounds were coordinated through radio communication by forward observers.

“When they call for rounds, I call the mortars,” said. Spc. Daniel Landry, a fire support specialist with 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Regiment and a forward observer during the exercise. “Everybody has to be on the same page in a live-fire shoot like this.”

Landry said the live-fire exercise provided him with authentic, hands-on training.

“We have simulators back in the rear, but out here we put that training to good use,” he said. “The best part is when it all comes together. You’re calling for those rounds and you see the impacts. You see the targets getting obliterated.”

Infantrymen heard the percussion of 60mm and 120mm mortar rounds hitting their targets as they assumed their tactical positions, adding to the realism of a combat scenario.

“This training is the best way to prepare for an actual event we’d have to respond to,” said Pfc. Michael Cameron, an infantry Soldier with the unit and grenadier of his squad. “It brings up our morale when we’re in an environment like this.”

Cameron said he believes he is an important part of USARCENT despite being a junior-enlisted Soldier.

“If you have one link in the fence that isn’t there, the whole thing falls apart,” he said. “Every person matters in this scenario. Every person has a role to fulfill. Even with the most basic rifleman. If he’s not there, the mission can’t be accomplished.”