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May 27, 2011  

Mobilization

Soldiers train with Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station

Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

The word “CROWS” has a different meaning at Fort McCoy. Soldiers recently trained on a CROWS system that is a Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station.
PHOTO: Pfc. Michael Laley, right, looks into the optical boring sight on the nozzle of the M2 .50-caliber machine gun. Photo by Tom Michele
Pfc. Michael Laley, right, looks into the optical boring sight on the nozzle of the M2 .50-caliber machine gun as he and the gunner seated inside the Humvee gun truck fine tune the sight-in adjustments to the weapon mounted on a Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station. Sgt. Todd Lobell, left, and Sgt. Kyle Gourgues assist. They are with the 926th Engineer Company, a Louisiana Army National Guard unit training at Fort McCoy in preparation to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Four Army CROWS systems arrived at Fort McCoy in May for training with some of the units mobilizing at Fort McCoy.

CROWS are what the name implies, a station platform to mount weapons on. The station is mounted on vehicles from the Humvee to the Abrams tank. The biggest advantage of the CROWS is as its name states, “remotely operated.”

Scott Shank, a Department of the Army civilian with the Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM), New Equipment Training, Warren, Mich., headed the seven-person training squad that was at Fort McCoy for most of May. “The importance of the system is that it mitigates the threat to our Soldiers who sit inside the vehicle, and are protected, surrounded by armor, not exposed to threat fire.”

“That keeps the crews safe and makes for more-effective target engagement,” Shank said. “When a threat comes up, you need to rapidly neutralize the threat.”

Shank said the CROWS accepts the M249 squad automatic weapon, M240B light machine gun, M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun and the MK19 40mm grenade machine gun. Shank said the CROWS also has a large ammunition-storage capacity, which greatly reduces the number of reloading actions.

CROWS continuously traverses the entire 360 degrees horizontally on the vehicle, and elevates easily to attack any target. “A big plus with the system is that it enhances the accuracy of whichever weapon is mounted on it, to make it more accurate than free-style gunnery,” Shank said. “The various optical systems provide a great combat multiplier as it provides the shooter with significant visual information from a long distance. You don’t need an assistant gunner using binoculars. The greater visibility and accuracy also makes for fewer rounds of ammunition expended.”

“CROWS is a great stand-off weapon,” Shank said. Soldiers can use it to identify any threats, personnel, possible explosives, obstacles or structures. It is point surveillance.

One of the Soldiers training on the CROWS, Sgt. Kyle Gourgues, said, “There is a huge intimidation factor with this thing compared to using the weapons conventionally. Enemy forces won’t try to threaten you as much.” Gourgues is with the 926th Engineer Company, a Louisiana Army National Guard unit from Baton Rouge, training to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Getting this training on the CROWS will help me teach other guys in our unit,” Gourgues said. “CROWS saves lives because no guy is hanging outside of the vehicle and risks losing his life. That’s the advantage of our Army having better technology. Being a Soldier is a very important job. We are responsible for each other’s lives.”

Gourgues is heading to his second deployment in Afghanistan, having served with another unit there two years ago.

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