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‘Centurions’ qualify on gunnery systems at Douthit complex

By Julie Fiedler | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | June 11, 2014

A puff of orange smoke exploded about 500 meters down a training lane at Douthit Gunnery Complex.

“That’s what I like to see,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Fimpel, 287th Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, as he watched a target fall.

The 40-mm training round had found its mark.

“That’s when the job gets exciting is when you know they’re getting it,” Fimpel said.

From May 19 to 22, Soldiers with the 287th MP Co. familiarized themselves with the weapons systems – a 40-mm grenade launcher and .50-caliber gun – aboard armored security vehicles, or ASVs. From May 27 to 30, they took to therange to operate and qualify on the ASVs.

“We always train on the weapons, like taking them apart and functions checks. But actually firing them and hitting targets, this might be our first time doing it. We’re learning,” said Spc. Stephen Casey, 287th MP Co. “It’s all about a team … It’s all us going in there together and being able to trust each other, so we can qualify … In a situation like this, when we’re in the ASV, we have teams, and this is where it all comes (together). This is the big test right here, to see how well we can work together as a team.”

Functioning as a cohesive team is critical when operating the ASVs, explained 1st Lt. Markus Fischbach, 287th MP Co.

“It’s not just one individual. You have a whole team working together to employ the whole weapon system … It takes a driver, a gunner and a team leader just to make that weapons platform function,” he said. “Soldiers are really getting a lot out of it, learning, working together as a team.”

Each position in the ASV has to communicate and act on critical information within seconds. That timing is a challenge.

As targets pop up for each firing table, teams only have 30 to 60 seconds to acquire each target and destroy it.

“That’s the really hard part – 30 seconds,” said Pfc. Christopher Campbell, 287th MP Co., who was qualifying for the first time as a gunner. “It’s pretty hard … It takes time.”

“It’s basically training you for when you get downrange because no target is going to stay in the same spot for 30 seconds,” Casey added. “If you can hit a target in that amount of time, then you’re pretty good of a shooter, pretty good of an actual ASV team. So, that’s why we train like that here.”

ASVs are typically used for urban missions, like escorts and security convoys, and linear warfare.

Having an opportunity to train on the range is a highlight of being a Soldier, said Sgt. Jesus Garabote, 287th MP Co.

“It’s pretty much what all of us joined to do,” he said.

As Casey and Campbell came off their lanes for the first time, they said they had learned a lot familiarizing themselves with the ASVs, adding they were eager to get back out and qualify.

“For me and my gunner, it was the first time (out) for both of us, so we learned together, and I enjoyed it. I’m ready to go back again,” Casey said. “To me, it’s pretty exciting, a great learning experience.”

“It was really cool,” Campbell added.
Tag Douthit Gunnery Complex   Tag Training