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August 23, 2012

‘Black Knights’ field artillery gunners ready for long-range support

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Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Joseph Wilbanks

Soldiers with the “Black Knights” perform a crew drill to hone their skills while at Forward Operating Base Denver during a National Training Center rotation Aug. 14. The “Black Knights” are part of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment “Gunners”.

The “Black Knights” of Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment “Gunners,” stand ready to drop 155 mm of artillery on their enemies at Forward Operating Base Denver on a moment’s notice.

These Soldiers, deadly accurate and well trained, put their substantial skill on display at the National Training Center Aug. 3-17.

The field artillery is an essential part of any combat arms combined team. They are capable of delivering precision long-range support from up to 30 kilometers away. These specialists in express delivery of high explosives are the go- to for line units when things turn ugly, and the “Black Knights” are only too happy to help.

The “Black Knights” staked a position out on the corner of FOB Denver that allowed them to cover a large portion of the training area. The site is Spartan, with only a camouflage net, a truck with rounds and powder, and the M777 155 mm Howitzer, but that’s all the “Black Knights” need to make it “rain.”

This ability isn’t natural though, it’s honed and perfected through drill after drill, making sure the process is as close to perfect as possible.

There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of jobs that have to be done perfectly to make the magic happen, said Spc. Victor Garcia, gunner for the “Black Knights.” From gunner, to chief or smoke, all the jobs are equally important and drilled over and over again.

These drills, when performed well, means the crew can fire up to 10 rounds a minute.

The “Black Knights” are more than just an offensive weapon. They also stand ready in a counter-battery role. This means that if the FOB takes indirect fire from the enemy, they track the round back to the source and fire on its position. This whole process can take less than six minutes.




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