Sgt. Bob Yarbrough
4th IBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. Public Affairs
WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan (June 3, 2013) – Afghan National Army artillerymen with the fire direction center, Artillery Coy, 6th Kandak, 4th Infantry Brigade, 203rd Corps, trained on the Afghan Gunnery Computer, or AGC, June 3, at Combat Outpost Doshe Towp.
The AGC is designed for use with the D30 Howitzer, which ANA artillery units use to fight the enemies of Afghanistan.
The AGC takes coordinates for the position of the howitzers, either manually or through built in GPS input; the coordinates of the desired target, along with other details like weather, elevation, and possible hilltops and valleys in the line of fire; and calculates the settings for the artillerymen to set the D30 in order to hit their target.
“We used data from previous fire missions as practice to make sure they got the lessons,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Kuhnert, a native of Pinckneyville, Ill., the primary instructor and a field artillery automated tactical data system specialist with 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Brigade Comabt Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
The day’s lesson included entering all of the data into the AGC to double check the fire direction center team’s manual data calculations, ensuring they would still be on target if the AGC was unavailable.
“They definitely know their stuff,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Chris Ostrander, a native of Newport News, Va., and a field artillery automated tactical data system specialist with 1st Bn., 76th FA Regt. “Everything was either right on or very close.”
Two ANA privates, Abdul Raqib and Mohammed Zia, who were classmates almost two years ago at the ANA’s artillery school and are now assigned to the 6th Kandak Artillery Coy, at COP Dash Towp, said they were happy to have the advisors who taught them many things.
“This computer is a good thing,” said Raqib, a native of Kunar province, who only spoke Dari. “It is simple and accurate.”
“I’m feeling very good about this,” said Zia, a native of Wardak province, who only spoke Pashtu. “The computer is so quick, so fast. I want to learn more.”
Jamil, the interpreter, used his experience with the AGC to overcome the language barriers during the training. He worked as an interpreter for the ANA’s artillery school previously, where he translated manuals for the D30 AGC, and helped put together lesson plans for the system.
The newly-trained ANA soldiers will teach the rest of 6th Kandak’s fire direction teams how to operate the AGC, increasing their capacity to provide security to the Afghan people.
2nd Lt. Ryan K. Huggins
1st Bn., 76th FA Regt., 4th IBCT, 3rd Inf. Div.
FORT STEWART, Ga. – Soldiers from A Battery, 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, executed real-world operations training, Sept. 14-15, by conducting air assault raids with howitzers on Fort Stewart, Ga.
Prior to the training, which was held to prepare “Patriots” for future missions, the Soldiers conducted hours of rehearsals as well as cold-load and hooker training at Donovan Field.
The 78th Aviation Troop from the Georgia National Guard provided CH-47 Chinook support for the artillery raids. The action kicked off with the Alpha Dawgs flying in the updated Fox version of CH-47 Chinooks from the pickup zone to the landing zone with a 25-minute flight around Fort Stewart.
The advance party arrived first in order to secure the area, establish communications and prepare ammunition for the arrival of the gun crews. Once the gun crews touched down the artillerymen jumped into action. Soldiers quickly de-rigged and established firing capabilities while positioning the howitzers using the Gun Laying Positioning System.
Sixteen minutes and 31 seconds later the two gun sections were laid and the “Patriots” were in position ready to fire.
The Fire Direction Center processed and sent the technical firing solution to the gun-line. Within 24 seconds, the first M119A2 crew executed their crew drills, sending 105 mm high-explosive projectiles screaming from the tube. At the impact area, 8 kilometers away, the Combat Observation and Lasing Team watched and reported the rounds impacting the target.
In total, 120 rounds were fired by six howitzer sections throughout three missions.
Capt. Christopher Williams, commander of A Btry., 1st Bn., 76th FA Regt., said there was a lot of excitement throughout the day.
“This is the first time an air assault with howitzers has been done since 4th IBCT has been stood up,” Williams said.
Williams said the training was not only a morale booster but it let his Soldiers know the importance of their job and how they will need to perform in future missions; for most Soldiers it was their first time conducting such training.
1st Lt. Brandon Jones, a platoon leader with A Btry., 1st Bn., 76th FA Regt., said the training was “spot-on theater-level training,” and that he was satisfied with the crews’ highly accurate fires.
Staff Sgt. Tanya Polk
4th IBCT, 3rd Inf. Div.
FORT STEWART, Ga.— It’s been a couple of years since Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery fired their main weapons system. In 2010 and 2011, they supported the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division’s mission to enable the Iraqi Security Forces and the Government of Iraq during Operation New Dawn—and that mission certainly didn’t require the use of the M119 Howitzer.
The artillerymen have since returned to Fort Stewart, Ga., and April 16-20, they returned to the gun line. During this live-fire training exercise, however, they’ve gone digital.
Traditionally, ‘Patriot’ Soldiers coordinate firing missions via radio transmission. Through voice commands, artillerymen on the gun line converse with the Fire Direction Center prior to engaging their target.
“Now, we’re able to make more accurate commands by using the Gun Display Unit Replacement,” said Capt. Christopher Williams, commander of Battery A, 1st Bn., 76th FA Regt.
Williams explained that when calling for fire, there’s no room for error. The GDU-R not only assists with shot accuracy, but allows for significantly less intervention than when using voice commands.
“You don’t have to worry about broken voice translation or having to repeat messages,” he said. “It’s definitely faster and more efficient.”
Sergeant First Class Jaime Natividad, platoon sergeant with Battery A, said that the GDU-R is beneficial in that it helps not just his field artillery Soldiers, but the Troops they support.
“Our main mission is to support maneuver units,” Natividad said. “We need to be ready and emplaced to fire as quickly a possible to support those units. Obviously, the more quickly we can get emplaced to fire, the better.”
During the indirect fire training, timing and precision is critical. Each section crew had six minutes to prepare the 4,000 pound Howitzer for fire.
“That includes set up, concealing the Howitzer, and setting up primary and secondary aiming references,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Cooper, section chief with Battery A.
Cooper said the GDU-R works very well and is an asset to quick engagement.
Each section launched 18 rounds onto their simulated enemy target six kilometers away. For many Soldiers, time back on the gun-line was long awaited.
“I haven’t fired a Howitzer since 2008,” said Sgt. Abriam Warren, with Battery A. “I’m just glad to be out here doing my job”