Infantry Live Fire
by Staff Sgt. Nathan Rivard
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - Soldiers with A Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment,
86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) conducted a live-fire range at Fort Drum during their Multi-echelon Integrated Brigade Training (MIBT).
“We are doing what we signed up for,” said Sgt. Sean Fernandes, team leader, A
Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain). “Just coming out and
doing what we are paid to do and actually getting boots on ground and getting live
rounds down range. That’s just motivation to come here.”
Portions of infantryman training can only be simulated to a point. There is nothing that
compares to live rounds going down range.
“It’s important for me just because with blanks, you can’t really do the command and
control with your guys that you need to and with live rounds it really reiterates the safety portion with the proper standoff, muzzle control, so it’s good for me to be able to monitor my guys and it has that added stress factor for my guys,” Fernandes.
The live-fire range is part of the 86th IBCT’s MIBT. The MIBT is a newly established,
First Army-sponsored, integrated multi-component collective training exercise. The
training is conducted for Army National Guard Brigade Combat Teams that did not
participate in a Mission Training Command rotation and division HQs training during the available year.
“It allows us to actually see where our platoon is at, so if they do well on the live-fire, we know that they are actually ready to perform their job in the real world if we are called upon,” said 2nd Lt. Patrick Finamore, platoon leader, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain). “It’s just a mark that we can mark to see what we need to train on in the future.”
Third platoon has experience through leadership and mentors, but the platoon still has
many Soldiers that recently enlisted in the Army.
“We got a lot of work to do,” said Finamore. “We have a very very young platoon. Most of the guys have new to the unit within the past nine months or so. It was good to see that they’ve come along a long ways even since January’s AT [annual training].”
“It’s important because for us we have a lot of new Soldiers and a lot of them have only been here for like four drills,” said Dayton. “We have three in my platoon that are only four drills in and I think its key to building their confidence in their weapons system and building their confidence while firing with other people moving around them. It’s a key task that the infantrymen need to know and the biggest thing is building their confidence.”
The Green Mountain Boys are known for their endurance, but that is dealing with
mountains and winter. Ft. Drum is a different training environment.
“Its good training, it’s a good place to do training because it’s different than the
mountains,” said Finamore. “It’s flat and swampy and wet which most of us are used
to. We’re used to cold, elevation, and more cold.”
Alpha Company waded through swampy terrain for hours to reach their mission
objective during the MBIT. The grueling march tested the infantrymen.
“They’ve got to know that they can live through the suck. It’s been rugged,” said
Dayton. “This has some of the most rugged stuff I’ve ever seen. Its nasty, but these
guys ... we didn’t have a single guy that fell out on his own and we shouldn’t, but they
all pushed through. Even the ones that were really hurting in the beginning. They
sucked it up and went. It was awesome. I’m proud of them, I’m proud to be a part of
this platoon, part of this company, and to watch these guys go through what they went
through in the last 24 hours ... actually it was like 30 hours and then come and do a live fire and execute it well. It’s awesome. You can’t really ask for much more.”
The live fire mission was successfully completed with music coming from the guns.
“Hearing those 240s go off as we moved to our assault position today,” said Finamore.
“Just something about the sound of machine guns talking is a great sound as an