|Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
The word “CROWS” has a different meaning at Fort McCoy. Soldiers
recently trained on a CROWS system that is a Common Remotely Operated
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
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
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
“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.