Soldiers of 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, continued to sharpen their essential skills during a series of gunnery training exercises spanning from January to June.
Battalions of the brigade participated in mounted and dismounted gunnery training utilizing Bradley Fighting Vehicles and tanks.
Gunnery training ensures soldiers maintain accuracy with their assigned weapons systems.
“It makes our crews trained and ready to fight,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richie Pozo, an infantryman with 2nd “Stallion” Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment.
Lt. Col. Kelvin Brown, commander of the Stallion Battalion, said the exercises demonstrate the crews’ proficiency with weapon systems, their ability to hit targets, maneuver and work as a cohesive team.
Brown said the graded events begin at the team and crew level, then advanced to collective-squad and platoon training.
Some of the soldiers participating in gunnery training have never fired tanks or Bradleys, Brown said.
“In the end it’s all about building lethal platoons,” Brown said. “That’s what it all boils down to. An individual tank or Bradley crew makes a lethal tank or Bradley platoon.”
Communication is number one when it comes to gunnery, Brown emphasized. Soldiers must be able to talk to each other, know how and where to move and know what and when to shoot.
Pfc. Florentino Loya, an infantryman and Bradley driver in the Stallion Battalion, said drivers must listen closely to all fire commands and carefully guide the vehicle to maintain the gunner’s precision. If the gunner’s body is jerked by movement of the Bradley, the crew may miss a target.
“As a crew, we learn from our mistakes and we learn to communicate better,” Loya said.
The natural progression of crews was made evident throughout the training, Brown said.
“You can see the video tapes, you can hear the audio and they respond and perform well as a crew,” Brown said. “Now those crews are working well together as platoons.”
Loya said his crew started out rough and he has learned a lot from his gunner.
Brown said his favorite part of gunnery is when a crew that is having difficulty with the training has a breakthrough and qualifies on their platform.
“You see the look in their eyes,” Brown said. “They’re confident in their system and they’re confident in their crew.”
There is still more training to come, but Loya said he has learned to be ready for a combat zone.
“This is the first real teambuilding event we’ve had as a battalion in like nine months,” Brown said. “Gunnery is something that mechanized soldiers look forward to.”