‘Pale Riders’ complete fire missions to register, certify mortar systems
Spc James Haynes, HHT, 4th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt., watches the smoke rounds land perfectly on target through a lightweight laser designator rangefinder. Photo by: 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Nelson, 4TH SQDN, 4TH CAV. REGT.
Story by: 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Nelson, 4TH SQDN, 4TH CAV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
"High-angled hell," as Spc. Russell Link called it, rained down on Mortar Firing Point 14 recently during the 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regt., 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division's annual mortar certification at Fort Riley.
It had been about two years since the squadron conducted a mortar certification. With 1st ABCT's most recent deployment and the wave of new personnel, the squadron was in need of registering and certifying its mortar systems.
"This is the first time since the deployment that our scouts have called (for fire), and our mortars have shot," said 1st Lt. Johnathon Drew, fire support officer, 4th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt., while his team was calculating mortar trajectories.
"We're making sure that all the rounds that we shoot land and impact safely … And make sure our mortars have the desired effects on target," he said.
The Squadron Mortar certification is where two entities of the squadron's mortars section and the squadron Fire Support teams work together to coordinate fire missions.
The FiSTers maneuver out in front of the troop and find important targets that are open for fire. They are the eyes and ears that observe enemy targets before the troop approaches. When they locate a target and calculating trajectories, they call in the mortar sections to fire rounds on the target.
"Troop support," is what assistant gunner Spc. Russell Link referred them to, while his team prepared another shell.
"That's the biggest thing: If our guys are taking fire or getting ambushed, we need to be on target in a timely manner. We need to give them fire support right off the bat," he said.
The squadron's FiSTers have been training on their plotting, calling for fire and fires calculating systems during September in preparation for the exercise.
This is the first time the mortar sections have shot their 120mm mortars from their M1064 track vehicles.
"We're going through fire for effect missions, adjust fire missions, and we're doing mortar registration … We train to fight. We need to be able to talk to our guns (mortars) and make sure we're all on the same page," said Spc. Joshua Reynolds, while the 120mm mortars fired in the background.
"Seeing the rounds impact … When you look at a target that's 4,000 meters away and get an accurate grid to it, and you see rounds impact on it, that's just a good feeling," said Sgt. Joseph Beach as the 120mm smoke rounds landed with a thud.