Soldiers Helping Soldiers Graduate JFO Testing
FORT RILEY, Kan. - Lt. Col. Jeffrey Anderson, the commander of 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, congratulates Staff Sgt. Joseph Stremkowski, the course honor graduate and a forward observer 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, with a hand shake at the 4IBCT Joint Fires Observer Course graduation ceremony, Mar 16. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Scott Lamberson, 4IBCT PAO.)
Story by: 4IBCT PAO Scott C Lamberson
FORT RILEY, Kan. – Forward observers of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division recently completed Joint Fires Observer Course, a course designed to further train them in their military occupation and earn an additional skill identifier (ASI).
The course teaches forward observers to call for close combat attacks from helicopters, as well as fire support from Navy and Air Force assets. Soldiers will be able to drop bombs more precisely by learning how to assist aircraft by supplying them with accurate and timely targeting data. Through this course, forward observers will be more able assist commanders on the battle field. When Soldiers complete the arduous 10-day course, they are awarded the L7 ASI.
"This course is actually very helpful, we got to learn doctrinally what we are supposed to do when calling for close air support and how we can apply that asset while deployed in a combat zone," said Pvt. Eric Guetterman, a forward observer of Co. D, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment.
"It's a great course to go through, it will save lives while deployed and allow us to more effectively and efficiently do our jobs" he added.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Sandlin, a forward observer of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4IBCT has implemented a study hall in the evenings after the duty day. He and others who have completed the course volunteer their time to ensure the Soldiers are prepared for the next day of class and review lessons from the day which increase the graduation rate and proficiency of the students.
"Basically what we do is run through the next day's simulations, I generally pick one of the Soldiers who is struggling in the course and ensure they know what to do, giving them extra guidance and lessons which will help them get through the next day's testing," Sandlin said
"When I allow a Soldier to run through the simulations the night prior to testing, many deficiencies they have will be visible. I then back brief the Soldier on their mistakes—they generally don't make those mistakes the next day,"Sandlin said.
This is the third iteration of the course that the study hall has been offered to students. The study hall is held in a classroom that is filled with high-tech simulators which allow the Soldiers to practice calling for fire in a realistic simulation, which not only prepares them for the next day of testing, but also prepares the Soldiers for combat. As some Soldiers run through the simulation, others study class materials in small groups.
"Some of us who have already completed the course volunteer our time to ensure the Soldiers walk away as highly trained joint fires observers and earn the L7 ASI," Said Sgt. Jacob Tassainer, a forward observer of HHC, 4IBCT who volunteers his time at the study hall.
As the course came to an end, 20 Soldiers graduated the course on Mar 16. At the ceremony Lt. Col. Jeffrey Anderson, the commander of 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, 4IBCT and Command Sgt. Maj. Wylie Hutchison, the senior enlisted advisor of the Dragon Brigade, passed out Certificates of Completion to all the graduates of the course and unit awards to those who excelled. Both men spoke about the importance of what the Soldiers had learned in the course, and how the training they received will be of upmost importance to the brigade as they prepare to move forward.
"The study hall helped me because I get to practice what I learned in class. These guys who have already completed the course have a great understanding which really helped me learn," Guetterman said.