By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Fort Hood Herald

Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, typically shoot weapons from rolling Bradley fighting vehicles, but they practiced with a different vehicle last week at Sugarloaf Range.

Three-man crews worked on their skills during an unstabilized gunnery, which means gunners fired .50-caliber machine guns affixed to the tops of their Humvees.

The battalion's soldiers typically maneuver and fire from vehicles that run on tracks. Unstabilized gunneries use wheeled vehicles like Humvees.

Unstabilized gunneries can be more difficult, company leaders said. In a Bradley fighting vehicle, the driver and truck commander have optics systems to help them identify targets and guide the gunners. The range a weapon can fire in vehicles like that is further, too, said Capt. James Covington, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander. The optics system in a Humvee includes a window and set of binoculars.

One of the most challenging things about the exercise was following the proper procedures during a round on the range, said Staff Sgt. JaJuan Hunter. Scoring measures not only accuracy, but details like soldiers calling out "on the way" before firing and drivers hitting the breaks just right, he said.

Last week was the first time Spc. Eric Zander participated in an unstabilized gunnery. Shooting from a Humvee presents a few more challenges, he said, which included a change in the way the crew communicates and having less control when firing.

The weapons tend to bounce around more when attached to a Humvee, Covington said, affecting a gunner's accuracy. That means gunners have to be better at their jobs when shooting unstabilized gunnery. This type of training event is designed to be harder, said Staff Sgt. Trever Henning. That way, when the crews get back inside their regular vehicles, using those weapons systems is easier.

Unstabilized gunnery is part of a new field manual the 1st Cavalry is getting its first crack at since returning from Iraq in late 2009 and early 2010.

The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's soldiers, who are preparing to deploy to Iraq, were some of the first in the Army to train using the new manuals, Col. Reginald Allen, regimental commander, said recently.

Headquarters Company is the first in the battalion to train under the new standards so officials can learn the ins and outs and prepare the rest of the brigade, Henning said.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at or (254) 501-7547. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

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