As targets are identified, coordinates are relayed from fire support specialists on the ground to the fire direction center and finally to the artillery pieces, ensuring timely and accurate fire on the objective.
The 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, certified on and executed the Fire Support Team Certification program Feb. 1 to March 4.
“(This) is an opportunity for (fire support specialists) to get together and go over common core skills,” said Sgt. 1st Class Casey Brown, the senior fire support and operations noncommissioned officer in charge of the Ironhorse Brigade’s fire support training.
The certification program is designed to certify fire support soldiers on critical tasks, and is used to assess the proficiency level of fire support teams and combat observation and lasing teams.
Second Lt. Russell Finegan, a field artillery officer assigned to the brigade’s 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, said the training and certification occurs once a year.
This event encompasses many fire support tasks starting with a written test, covering basic fire support knowledge, call-for-fire scenarios, battle drill proficiency, the tactical occupation of an observation post and crater analysis, he said.
During certification, Finegan said fire support soldiers have to be able to identify a target, get the distance to said target and effectively call for and adjust fire ensuring maximum effects on the target. Getting rounds on target depends on the location of the gun line, proper placement of fire support soldiers and the type of system used, including a map and pencil, laser or other global positioning system.
The overall effectiveness of a fire support, or COLT, team is determined by how integrated they are and how they communicate with their unit, Finegan said.
“(Fire support specialists) can go out independently, that’s why we have COLT teams,” Finegan said. “Here in a troop, if we aren’t working hand-in-hand with our scout brothers, then basically the fires aren’t that important, because fires is all about being ‘timely and accurate.’”
Finegan said fire support soldiers have opportunities for advanced joint training, like the Joint Fires Observer course, which adds to their base knowledge and increases their effectiveness on the battlefield.
Built by all military branches, the course was designed to give a common language to observers when calling for various types of fire and air support.
Finegan said he is excited about the training and certification because of what he can learn.
“This is definitely a chance for me to see every fire support guy across the brigade,” Finegan said. “(I get to see) what right looks like. This is where I need to be as a field artillery officer.”
Spc. Koehl Heebink, a fire support specialist assigned to Hammer Troop, said he is excited about this training because he is able to do his job instead of daily tasks. This training should be done more often, he said, because, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.”