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Tank team trains on gunnery for deployment

By Sgt. Casey Hustin | 19TH PUBLIC AFFAIRS DETACHMENT | September 22, 2017

     During World War II, infantrymen often wore out their bootlaces. Tankers gave their laces to the infantrymen and used belts to hold their boots on.

     Today, the new version of tanker boots has adopted a similar style with belted boots.

     Wearing those famous belted boots, tankers with the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, conducted gunnery training Aug. 9, at the Douthit Gunnery Complex at Fort Riley to prepare for their nine-month deployment to eastern Europe.

     “We like to have the same loader and driver so that we are all used to working together,” said 1st Lt. Zachary Newman, an armor platoon leader with the 2nd ABCT, preparing for his first deployment.

     Every six months, the tank commanders and gunners perform a gunnery range to maintain their readiness qualifications for live-fire engagements and exercises, Newman said.

      As the tanker crews hone their skills and strive for a passing readiness rating, the tanker crew must complete a series of 12 rigorous gunnery tables.

      Tables I and II are completed in country to certify Soldiers in crew tasks, tank weapons systems and the tank simulator. Tables III-VI are crew qualifications that certify the gunner and tank commander’s ability to fire together. Tables VII-XII are platoon and section qualifications that certify the loader, simulation operations and entire tanker crew to operate.

      While training within those tables, tanker crews face certain challenges.

     “It’s very hot inside the tank due to all of the trapped body heat and electrical components,” Newman said.

     The M1A2 Abrams can reach temperatures between 85 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit and is capable of firing 10 rounds per min­ute, Newman said.

     During gunnery training, the tank qualifying team fired live rounds on most tables and the number of rounds fired depends on how quickly a crew can identify targets and load the main gun.

     “Speed is the most difficult part of training,” Newman said. “The faster a crew can engage and destroy targets in gunnery, the better a score they earn. The top tanks rehearse together in order to perform fluidly and quickly.”

     The “Dagger” brigade has conducted a wide range of pre-de­ployment training, including a National Training Center rotation at Fort Irwin, California, Operation Danger Focus, gunnery, Call for Fire, Combat Life Saver and driver’s training.

     “All training is good training,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Harrison, a platoon sergeant with the 2nd ABCT, training for his seventh deployment. “Getting these guys that are brand-new to the unit accustomed to what we’re going to be doing over there, and training them how we fight is good.”