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Arrowhead Soldiers Train With Their Marine Counterparts
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor - November 2, 2014

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – In the world of artillery, there are a lot of pieces that work together to ensure that each round finds its target.

One piece of that puzzle, the forward observer, is responsible for, amongst other things, calling in artillery fire and radioing back when the rounds have landed.

U.S. Army and Marine forward observers with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, “Arrowhead,” and the 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company practiced these call-for-fire skills at Yakima Training Center, Wash., Oct. 10.

The Marines, who are reservists based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., had several young members within their group who have not yet been to the official forward observer schoolhouse yet, making this their first time viewing live artillery fire.

“The guys that haven't been to the schoolhouse, they're going to be miles ahead of the people who are going to be going to the schoolhouse and have never even seen an artillery range,” said Sgt. Chad Cocks, a Seattle native and Marine forward observer with 6th ANGLICO. “That's going to help them out a lot.”

The Arrowhead Soldiers and Marines spent time together on a hill observing the artillery fire from a relatively close distance from where the rounds were landing.

“Coming out here and working with the Army is great because we get to see the different targeting systems that they use and just the generally different equipment they use from what the Marine Corps uses,” Cocks said.

For the Soldiers present, it was a chance to work with those outside their branch, something they don't regularly get to do.

U.S. Army Sgt. James Benham, a forward observer with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and Sgt. Chad Cocks, a forward observer with 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, observe artillery rounds during training at Yakima Training Center, Wash., Oct. 10, 2014. The training was an opportunity for the Marines and Soldiers to practice their observer skills and experience what its like to work with others outside their branch. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor)
U.S. Army Sgt. James Benham, a forward observer with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and Sgt. Chad Cocks, a forward observer with 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, observe artillery rounds during training at Yakima Training Center, Wash., Oct. 10, 2014. The training was an opportunity for the Marines and Soldiers to practice their observer skills and experience what its like to work with others outside their branch. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor)

“We talked to them for, like, three hours last night,” said Sgt. James Benham, a San Diego native and forward observer with 3-2 SBCT. “You never really get to work with the different branches of service and it really highlights that we're all pretty much the same.”

The Soldiers spent a lot of time showing off their specially equipped Stryker combat vehicles, which have observation and targeting equipment that makes the job of a forward observer easier.

“They've seen Strykers, but they've never been in them, so it's a new experience for them,” Benham said. “They were really excited.”

For the 3-2 SBCT Soldiers, training with their Marine counterparts had a few benefits, not the least being that their brigade has recently been regionally aligned with efforts in the Pacific, which will see them working more with Marines in the future.

“I've been in almost five years in the Army now and I've never trained with the Marine Corps,” Benham said. “It's good to get hands-on because a lot of times, I think people stand back because of that natural rivalry...there's always the ‘who's better?' This way, it gives you a little better chance to get to know the person, to get to know the group before you're out there, and you realize that we're all the same men fighting the same fight just in different uniforms.”

By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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