KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Aug. 6, 2009 – As U.S. forces fight insurgents in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan, officials are working to protect them with new technology, equipment and vehicles.

One of the newest tools in their arsenal is the common remotely operated weapon station II, known as CROWS II, which enables soldiers to acquire and engage targets from the safety of their armored vehicle.

“It will save lives with the soldier being able operate the weapon while staying in the vehicle,” said Army Master Sgt. David Fyock, an electronic warfare officer and counter improvised explosive device noncommissioned officer for Joint Sustainment Command Afghanistan.

The weapon system uses improved optics to help with the positive identification of targets, and offers another method for finding homemade bombs, he said. In addition, the CROWS’ three-axis, stabilized mount contains a sensor suite and fire-control software, enabling soldiers to engage targets while on the move. The sensor suite makes it possible to identify, engage and defeat targets under any condition with its daytime video camera, thermal camera and laser rangefinders.

“The controls of the CROWS II are a little bit easier for soldiers to learn,” said Samuel Cottrell, a CROWS II training specialist from Rosedale, Ind. “It has a few more bells and whistles that CROWS I didn’t have.”

Soldiers will receive a five-day course on the weapon system, including training on day and night operations. On the last day of training, soldiers will fire ammunition.

“I’m six days from rolling outside the wire,” said Bobby H. Thomas, a 317th Field Artillery cannon crew member. “I feel pretty confident with this system, as opposed to having to be in the gunner hatch. I think it is definitely going to make a vast difference.”

Joint Sustainment Command Afghanistan officials are ensuring the smooth distribution of CROWS II within Afghanistan, said Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 David N. Conrad, a maintenance management technician. Command officials will supply units with the weapon system based on their mission.

“It is not the answer for everything,” Cottrell said. “It is a good system and gives the warfighter a little more capability.”

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