Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fire Support Soldiers recertify

By Spec. Jennie Burrett
2nd Brigade Combat Team Journalist

“Drop 50, fire for effect!”
All the fire support teams in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team −Commandos− recertified on job-specific tasks March 31 through April 4, at various locations across Fort Drum.
Forward observers and their fire support teams are responsible for calling down fire on the enemy. From establishing, maintaining and operating radio and wire communications to requesting and adjusting indirect fires on targets using artillery and mortars or attack aviation and close air support.
“Forward observers and their fire support teams must be proficient on those skills necessary to plan, integrate, synchronize and execute fire support into a maneuver commander’s plan,” said Maj. Brett Kessler, the brigade fire support officer. “The FIST certification is the first necessary part of a training program designed to return our ‘FISTers’ from their various non-artillery roles during Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08 to the level of proficiency needed to fully integrate fires as part of full-spectrum operations. We’ll continue to build from here.”
Three different stations compose the Commando FIST certification. First, the forward observers took a skill-level-appropriate written test of 50 questions that evaluated their understanding of observed fire standards. Additionally, the first station tested the forward observer’s ability to establish secure communications. Second, forward observers were tested on their ability to locate points on the ground on the dismounted land navigation course, and their ability to reconnoiter, occupy, and establish an observation post. The last station was the conduct of artillery fire missions in the Guard FIST, the fire support simulator, which tested the forward observer’s ability to locate a target, develop an appropriate call-for-fire and execute fire techniques with necessary adjustments and refinements.
“We do this certification so that the Soldiers have the ability to call mortars or field artillery onto the enemy, day or night,” said Sgt. 1st Class Russell Crenshaw, the fire support noncommissioned officer in charge for 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd BCT.
The certification is a test of current proficiency, but it also serves to focus future training.
“The recertification is a good base line to see where the entire brigade is at in skill level so we can improve and train from there,” said Sgt. Nicolas Andriulli, a fire support specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT.
The certifications are done about every six months, but this is the first one since the brigade’s redeployment.
“We are dong the recertification because it applies to our wartime mission,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Kool, the fire support noncommissioned officer in charge for 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT. “The recertification is a tool for training to refine tasks that the Soldiers need to work on.”

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