Best FiST generates team building effects

| September 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
Staff Sgt. Andrew Hudman (left), section chief, inspects a round and propellant prior to firing during Battery B, 2nd Bn, 11th FA Regt.'s table XII certification and qualification. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Shea Orr, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Staff Sgt. Andrew Hudman (left), section chief, inspects a round and propellant prior to firing during Battery B, 2nd Bn, 11th FA Regt.’s table XII certification and qualification. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Shea Orr, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Capt. Eric Swanson
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team
25th Infantry Division

POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii — Artillerymen from across 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team went toe-to-toe in a grueling 48-hour fire support competition, here, on the island of Hawaii.

The contest determined which fire support team would take home the title as best.

The brigade’s Best Fire Support Team (FiST) competition is held annually to test each team’s ability to call for fire, locate targets and navigate with a map and compass. This test not only verifies the training and knowledge of fire supporters across the brigade, but also provides each team the opportunity to measure itself against the other teams.

This year, Troop C, 2nd Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment’s FiST, made up of 2nd Lt. Michael Gillcrist, Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith and Spc. Kristopher Gonzalez, was crowned 2nd SBCT’s best FiST, here.

“We have a good, solid team, led by a terrific fire support sergeant and great, hard working junior enlisted,” said Gillcrist. “The team always takes pride in what they do, and they continuously excel.”

Forward observers, a term used synonymously with fire supporters, observe mortar, cannon and rocket fires to integrate effects with their maneuver brothers and sisters. They can also synchronize attack helicopter and close air support, or fixed wing fires, to achieve joint effects in support of operations. Combining all of these elements effectively is a difficult task that requires advanced training.

The results of the competition allow commanders and fire support officers to tailor their training plans and ensure all forward observers across the brigade are maintaining basic fire support skills. Physically and mentally challenging, the training provided the opportunity for company fire support officers and noncommissioned officers to measure the determination and capabilities of their Soldiers.

When asked what his team did to prepare for the competition, Gillcrest said, “We were dedicated to work hard every day at PT to ensure we would be as fit as possible. We focused our train-up on our weaknesses, so we were well rounded for every event.”

Troop C expects to maintain that distinction during next year’s competition.

When not competing for the title Best FiST, forward observers certified on indirect fire systems.

In order to certify, forward observers must accurately call for fire on a target, recognize enemy weapon systems and demonstrate their knowledge of ammunition to gauge how to generate the best effects on a target. The testing leaves very little room for error, ensuring each fire support team is the best at what it can do.

Throughout the exercise, forward observers participated in key training events that tested their knowledge of equipment and ability to integrate fires from multiple sources. The training also offered the opportunity to practice integrating a multitude of assets from across the 25th Infantry Division.

All 2nd SBCT FiSTs participated in a defensive live-fire scenario, where forward observers honed their skills while controlling attack aviation, mortar and artillery fires simultaneously.

As a result of this training the brigade’s fire supporters gained valuable experience in planning and controlling joint fires. An added result of the training was the team-building aspect as observers, fire direction officers and howitzer crews learned to work together and strengthen relationships within the fires community.

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Category: Deployed Forces, News, Training

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