The following is a release by Sgt. Youtoy Martin:

Vehicle crews, from 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, practiced firing machine guns from moving Humvees during a vehicle gunnery exercise here, Nov. 14-22.

The Soldiers mounted M249 Squad Automatic Weapons and M2 50-caliber machine guns to their Humvees and worked on marksmanship and maneuver during a series of day and night qualification scenarios to maintain readiness.

“This gunnery allows us to have qualified crews that are trained and capable on their individual weapons platform,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Knutt, a master gunner with 1-18th Infantry Regiment and a native of Cando, North Dakota. “This gets the crews familiar with the capabilities and ranges of the weapons system that they have.”

The Soldiers have completed several iterations and scenarios that helped them improve their shooting confidence on an unstable platform.

“The tables that we run will certify us a crew,” said 2nd Lt. Philip Dennis, of Indianapolis and the platoon leader of 1st Platoon, B Company. “There are additional tables that will be conducted to certify each section, platoon and company.”

During the training, an evaluator sits-in and ensures that the crew is maintaining safety standards, effectively engaging targets and communicating properly, Dennis said.

“This training helps us improve our proficiency in using our weapons as well as maneuvering our vehicles while employing the weapons at the same time,” Dennis said. “It focuses us on maintaining our lethality.”

For Spc. Erick Peterson, a gunner with 1-18 Infantry Regiment and a native of Cassville, Missouri, shooting from a Humvee was a new experience.

“It’s nice being the gunner, I love it,” Peterson said. “It’s completely different trying to shoot from the Humvee as it goes over bumps. For some of us, it’s our first time shooting from a vehicle, so this is really good training. It was definitely a lot bumpier out there than I thought it would be.”

Leaders, from 1-18 Infantry Regiment, developed the training to concentrate on readiness and Soldier skills.

“The primary focus is really two-fold,” said Capt. Robert Deppa, commander of D Company, 1-18 Infantry Regiment. “One is to get our gunners and vehicle commanders to gain confidence in using the weapons, both at day and night. Second it aids in [training] our mission essential task of moving to contact.”

“We are qualifying crews so that they are trained and proficient to go out and maneuver anywhere in the area of operations when called upon,” Deppa said. “The ultimate result is a lethal company capable of going anywhere in the area of responsibility and effectively engaging the enemy.”

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