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‘Synchronized movement’ in gunnery training

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Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 4:30 am

As the Apache helicopter landed Thursday, soldiers ran out to meet it with fuel and ammo, preparing it for the next round of simulated battle.

It takes four to five different occupational specialties to man the forward arming and refueling point of an Apache, said Command Sgt. Maj. Roque Quichocho, of 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

“There’s an orchestra of things going on,” he said.

To perfect soldiers’ skills, the battalion conducted last week its seventh gunnery-type training in the last year, said Lt. Col. Cain Baker, battalion commander. Training included rotations at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., as well as providing aviation assets to units training at Fort Hood.

“Everybody has a specific task and function,” Baker said. “These soldiers know exactly their task. ... It’s synchronized movement.”

Sgt. Kenneth Redd, an armament specialist, said his section is responsible for loading ammo onto the helicopters. During training he focuses on accountability and safety.

“If we’re not being safe, we’re not being affective,” he said. “Training events like this help build our safety techniques and confidence in what we are doing. ... It helps each of us come together as a team.”

All that behind the scenes work goes toward completing the ultimate goal of any Apache unit — getting soldiers in the air to shoot down enemy targets.

On Thursday, soldiers were in the midst of their final 10-day culminating training event before deploying to Afghanistan in January.

“We are giving crews assurance they can do that in combat,” Baker said.

The event qualified and validated two-man Apache crews on the three weapons systems of the attack helicopter using live fire. The three systems use 30 mm rounds, rockets and hellfire missiles, some of which are simulated at Fort Hood’s training areas.

Crews were given various scenarios to engage targets using hover, forward movement and diving techniques. Each team was then evaluated based on target accuracy and a review of recordings from the cockpit.

“We can review processes, and also hear audio to improve crew coordination,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Steve Napoli. It’s incredibly valuable for crews to hear for themselves what they do and don’t say during engagements, he said.

Baker said he appreciates the division and Fort Hood providing so many opportunities to train his soldiers for overseas operations.

“At the end of the day, the battalion works as a whole to put rounds on targets,” he said.

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