Mortar Platoon leads the way in digital fire mission

MJO

By 2nd Lt. David Doggette, Mortar Platoon Leader, 1-149th Infantry

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion 149th Brigade conduct a live mortar fire exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., Aug. 6. They incorporated all the organic computer systems used in mortar operations to execute a successful digital fire mission.

FORT KNOX, Ky. (August 27, 2010)–Kentucky National Guard’s Det. 1 Headquarters, Headquarters Company 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry conducted a live mortar fire exercise at Fort Knox Aug. 6.  

The Soldiers incorporated all the organic computer systems used in mortar operations to execute a successful digital fire mission, a first in the numerous mortar fieldings and training events across the Army in the last four years.

“This unit was the first unit in the many Product Manager Mortars’ M32 Lightweight Handheld Mortar Ballistic Computer operational new equipment training events to incorporate all systems that are used in combat and peacetime operations,” said Mr. Shane Wisley, a mortar NET trainer who congratulated the platoon leader and his team on a job well done.

These systems send, process and adjust fire missions digitally over the SINCGARS radio, and do it much faster than the traditional manual method.

With the fielding of the M252 81mm mortars, M224 60mm mortars, and M32 Lightweight Handheld Mortar Ballistic Computer, Kentucky’s only mortar platoon is fully equipped and trained to provide fire support to the battalion’s maneuver forces.

Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Battalion 149th Brigade adjust fire on their mortar system as they conduct a live mortar fire exercise at Fort Knox, KY., August 6.

The mortar fire control systems digital computer consists of four systems, three of which are run by forward observers of the fire support platoon.  The fourth computer, the M32 LHMBC, was used by the mortar platoon’s Fire Direction Center to compute all the data to formulate a successful fire mission.  With the integration of the M32 LHMBC on Aug. 6, the FO’s and FDC were able to communicate a fire mission from a great distance with out ever speaking a word to each other.  This mission was processed and fired by the mortar platoon.  Wisley from PM Mortars said their instructors would typically run the FO portion of the fielding with the soldiers watching and learning.

“On this fielding, those Soldiers were very knowledgeable and with little assistance were able to fully incorporate all systems,” said Wisley.

Following the fielding of the M32 LHMBC and the new mortar tubes at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center, Product Manager Mortars instructed the platoon leadership for a week on how to operate and integrate the computer systems.  Simultaneously, PM Mortars gave instruction to the mortar gun crews on the M252 and M224 mortar systems. Lastly the PM Mortars representative worked with the forward observers, who had previously been fielded their three computer systems during an earlier training event.   Wisley said other mortar units their equipment is usually not fully mission capable.

“With all of the instructor’s knowledge and help, 1-149th Infantry Soldiers were able to work together to gain and maintain operational proficiency,” said Wisley.

Upon arrival the instructors watched and advised as the Soldiers ran through their missions on the 60, 81, and 120mm mortar systems.  The team was successful in firing digital fire missions on all three weapon systems, making them the first to do so in the Army.  Wisley stated this helped facilitate 1st Battalion 149th Infantry to incorporate the mortars into the ‘digital world’ of the U.S. Army.  The unit leadership was extremely proud of their Soldiers accomplishments during the mortar equipment fielding and training and looks forward to once again proving their capabilities during their next live fire exercise in September.

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