Story and photos by
Sgt. Robert England
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, “Strykehorse,” 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, conducted fire support team, or FIST, certification throughout the island, July 30-Aug. 10.
“FISTs support the maneuver plan and integrate combined arms assets, such as artillery and air support,” said Capt. Kyle McGillen, fire support officer, 2nd Sqdn., 14th Cav. Regt., 2nd SBCT, 25th ID.
“This certification process helped ensure the Soldiers understand the procedures for effectively employing these assets in combat situations through equipment familiarization and virtual training simulations,” McGillen said.
Certification began July 30 with an Army physical fitness test, followed by a 13-mile road march, here. During the march, Soldiers carried equipment necessary to operate in the field to test their ability to move with all their gear as they would in combat.
An individual skills test was administered to assess each fire support specialist’s ability to use all fire support equipment, including the Advanced System Improvement Program radio; the Defense Advanced GPS Receiver, or DAGR; and the Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder.
Soldiers employed their knowledge of the DAGR during land navigation assessment. They demonstrated their ability to maneuver with the DAGR at night, and with a map and compass during the day.
Also, McGillen said the teams were instructed to occupy and move undetected between observation points.
At the conclusion of the certification, graders assessed each fire support specialist’s ability to call for fire across a wide spectrum of missions. They were also tested on calls for close-air support.
From the sharing of intelligence to the coordination of artillery and air support, FISTs play a crucial role on the modern battlefield, McGillen said. This certification was a way to ensure all fire support specialists in the Strykehorse squadron understand all aspects of their role during combat.
“Fire support Soldiers are (communications) experts, and they bring all fire support assets into a combined engagement,” McGillen said. “This certification has allowed us to measure their abilities without having to expend any live ammunition.”
McGillen said that this certification follows doctrinal lessons covered in the Army’s fire support manual. Soldiers are expected to demonstrate their capacity for critical thinking.
“The certification covers all required material and goes more robust into tactical scenarios,” McGillen said. “It checks for the basic skill set, but also the ability to think freely in combat, and as the situation develops, they’ll be able to react accordingly.”
Spc. Jacob Gladysz, fire support specialist, Troop A, 2nd Sqdn., 14th Cav. Regt., 2nd SBCT, 25th ID, said the certification benefited the Soldiers in that they were able to brush up on perishable skills that can save their comrades’ lives.
“It builds familiarity with our call-for-fire equipment and land navigation, pretty much just making sure we know how to do our jobs,” Gladysz said. “If we don’t know how to do our jobs right, the wrong people might die.
“This certification will give me the confidence to do my job,” Gladysz added. “I’ll know the training I got was good, so I won’t be second-guessing myself.”