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September 23, 2011


Illinois National Guard cavalry unit fires mortars

Realistic, hands-on mortar training highlighted a live-fire weekend for an Illinois Army National Guard cavalry squadron at Fort McCoy.
PHOTO: Members of the 2nd, 106th Cavalry Squadron, an Illinois Army National Guard unit, fire a 120 mm mortar shell. Photo by Rob Schuette
Members of the 2nd, 106th Cavalry Squadron, an Illinois Army National Guard unit, fire a 120 mm mortar shell during a training scenario at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Moncrief, a mortar section leader for the 2nd, 106th Cavalry Squadron of Dixon, Ill., said two mortar sections conducted 120 mm mortar training at Fort McCoy during a September weekend.

The training included firing daylight and illuminated mortar rounds, Moncrief said.

“We can do dry drills on a football field or a one-acre sized location back home,” Moncrief said. “But training at an Army installation allows us to do the full range of training and to use live rounds.”

Unit personnel also get to train on related skills needed for a fire mission, including scouting, observing, locating and engaging an enemy with fire and using indirect-fire procedures, he said. Training at Fort McCoy allows unit members to learn and practice the techniques to find and locate targets and how to incorporate the skills needed to fire mortars.

“There’s only so much you can do with dry-fire drills,” Moncrief said. “This gives us work to improve our skills and develop the teamwork we need to accomplish a mission. It adds to the realism of our training.”

Personnel learn how to give and receive fire commands and set the data sights on the weapons system, he said.

“It means a little more to the troops when they have the actual rounds in their hands and they have to go through the steps to fire,” Moncrief said. “It creates the stress you have firing the mortar and the realism helps them prepare for the mission.”

Unit members also took advantage of other training opportunities at Fort McCoy, such as training in vehicle-recovery operations.

For more information about scheduling ranges at Fort McCoy, call 608-388-3721.

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