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By U.S. Army Central
U.S. Army Central
Part of achieving the standard as a Soldier is qualifying on an assigned weapon and or weapon system. These qualifications begin at the individual’s weapon, such as an M9 pistol or an M4 carbine. But, there are some Soldiers who have to qualify on a weapon’s system and as a member of a functioning team.
Thus, to accommodate this standard, Soldiers with Battery B "Berserkers," 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery Regiment, participated in a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System table VI gunnery qualification, March 29, Udairi Range Complex, Ku-wait.
To those participating in this qualification, it is the validation of a three Soldier team; the driver, gunner, and launcher chief. Where the team has to test yearly on several functional areas of the HIMARS.
"There are different certification levels we do every year, so table V and table VI are certification lanes. And then table VI is the actually live-fire, so we test our crews to make sure they can actually go out and employ the weapons systems in combat," said Capt. Timber Toste, commander of Battery B, 3-157th. "They have to shoot three types of fire missions; an ‘at my command,’ a ‘when ready,’ and a ‘time on target.’
"At my command," is a fire command given to the HIMARS and prohibits them from firing until directed by the Fire Direction Center. "When ready," allows the section chief to give a fire command to his team once they have received the target’s coordinates. And "time on target," is a means for the Fire Direction Officer, who is in a different location than the HIMARS team, to control when the rounds will hit the target.
Even though the HIMARS fire commands are very similar to other gunneries, the weapon’s system is actually very different.
"A lot of people are calling them the long range sniper rifle," Toste said. "When you pick out a target and give it a grid, it’s going to hit that grid. With HIMARS you can build a target packet in a relatively built up area and … you can drop that building right where it stands and not have any collateral effects on the surrounding buildings."
This "long range sniper rifle" or HIMARS is set up on a M1140 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles Army 5-ton and contains one "Pod." The Pod can include six M31 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System rounds or one Army Tactical Missile Sys-tem. One M31 round weighs 54 pounds and has a range of 15 to 84kms. Whereas, the ATACMS weighs 500 pounds with a range of 70 to 300kms. The empty Pod weighs approximately 5,100 pounds. And a fully loaded HIMARS weighs can more than 34,000 pounds.
Nevertheless, the qualification went off without a hitch. Aside from a few camels causing random "cease fires" on the range, this validation and controlling a HIMARS proves worthy to a launcher chief and his crew.
"It’s a good part of my life, I enjoy it," Bentley said. "It’s a great experience. I wouldn’t change anything and I would do it all over again."
As the qualification toiled on in the dry deserts of Kuwait, the commander, in an understood "you" type of meaning, mentioned how he was pleased with his battery.
"Rounds are going down range and are landing where they’re supposed to, so that’s what we do," he said.
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