POSTED: Monday, September 23, 2013 - 9:59pm
UPDATED: Monday, September 23, 2013 - 10:04pm
Fort Bliss (U.S. Army) — They move and try to remain unseen while looking for those who are trying to move and remain unseen. Four Soldiers, equipped with binoculars and radios, watch the valley before them, looking for signs of enemy movement. As the sound of gunfire echoes off the valley walls, the team springs into action.
Fire support specialists are the advance eyes on the ground for the field artillery units. They are responsible for calling indirect fire to the battlefield to aid maneuver units that may come under fire from enemy combatants.
On Sept. 11, Soldiers of 4th Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, took to the hills of training area 2D on McGregor Range, N.M., to work on their forward observer skills and forge team cohesion.
“I want to get all my guys out here and see what they can do in an actual live training environment,” said 1st Lt. Keith Perri, platoon leader for 4th Platoon. “It’s a lot different than sitting in a training simulator.”
Team leaders took their teams through four separate scenarios. They had to move positions using the terrain, keeping themselves hidden and providing little or no silhouette for the enemy to see and target them.
Once contact was established with the enemy, the team was responsible for calling for fire from mortar teams, to cover the withdrawal of the maneuver unit in the valley below. Then they moved to a new location, continuing on to the next scenario. Platoon leadership watched as each team moved through the training area, taking notes of what took place. Along with observations from the opposition forces, Soldiers learned some very valuable lessons.
“By far this is the most essential training that we have done,” said Pvt. John Johnson, a new unit Soldier. “You are actually out here seeing what you see on the map, it’s very different, but effective too.”
If the maneuver units the Soldiers of 4th Platoon support go downrange, they can be assured they have well-trained forward observers working on the ridgelines above them.