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  November 25, 2011

News

MATES supports fielding of improved targetry system

Story & photos by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

The Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-command-linked guided (TOW) missile systems for Wisconsin Army National Guard personnel will be improved with new equipment received at the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES) at Fort McCoy.
PHOTO: Soldiers receive instruction on the Improved Targetry Acquisition System. Photo by Rob Schuette
Soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Combat Brigade Team of the Wisconsin Army National Guard receive instruction on the Improved Targetry Acquisition System at a field site at Fort McCoy. The equipment was fielded to the units at the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site.

Maj. Myron Davis, MATES supervisor, said the organization, which handles maintenance needs for Wisconsin Army National Guard unit equipment pre-positioned at MATES, served as the fielding site for the M41A4 Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS) weapon system.

The units, which are aligned with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, received maintenance and operator training on the equipment at Fort McCoy after the fielding, Davis said.

Maintenance training was conducted at MATES and operator training was conducted at the Wisconsin Military Academy by the Close Combat Weapon Systems Project Office, ITAS New Equipment Training Team of Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

“The units will take about half the equipment back to their home stations for their training needs,” Davis said. “We will keep the other half here and maintain it. It can be issued out to the 32nd when they come for training or used by other units, as needed. It saves money, time, and wear-and-tear on the equipment and the vehicles used to transport it by us keeping it here.”

The equipment also is an excellent asset for MATES, which maintains equipment to support training by the Wisconsin Army National Guard, as well as other units that may need to use the equipment while training at Fort McCoy, he said.

Lt. Col. Alec Christianson, a fire force integration officer and new equipment trainer, said the new equipment is much more accurate and has better guidance systems than the equipment it replaces.

“The equipment has been used in OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom)/OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and helps troops get the enemy before they (the enemy) realize it,” Christianson said. “It’s also so accurate it helps avoid collateral damage to civilians and buildings.”

PHOTO: Students learn to maintain the new Improved Targetry Acquisition System equipment. Photo by Rob Schuette
Students learn to maintain the new Improved Targetry Acquisition System equipment at a maintenance class held at the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site at Fort McCoy.

Greg Mattson of the ITAS Fielding Team said the ITAS provides the Brigade Combat Teams with a long-range, direct-fire, precision weapon system. In addition to limiting collateral damage, ITAS has simplified the firing rules of engagement for troops using TOW, he added.

“Because this is so accurate, you can engage the enemy immediately with this system without going through all the release authority steps that used to be necessary since it is a direct-fire weapon,” Mattson said. “This is a high-priority project to be fielded.”

The Soldiers who received the new equipment were impressed.

Spc. Brian Schroeder, who also works as a military-civilian technician at MATES, said he had trained on TOW during Advanced Individual Training, and some training on the new ITAS equipment was included.

“This is more in-depth and a bigger upgrade than what I had back in 2007,” Schroeder said. “It’s so much easier to work, and you can diagnose problems quicker and get repairs done quicker. This is a lot more accurate and has an improved range, too.”

Sgt. 1st Class Brett Newsome, who also serves as a military-civilian technician in a maintenance shop at Camp Douglas, said the advanced optic system on the ITAS is so good it makes it easy to spot and engage an enemy.

“You also can get maintenance or replacement of parts done overnight so there will be less down time for maintenance,” Newsome said. “The new equipment also has an add-on capability to provide for improved (future) capabilities.”

Spc. Nathan Gerke, an 11B infantryman, said the ITAS has an advanced zoom on its target laser range field that will help pinpoint the target.

“Once you fired the old equipment the screen went blank for a few seconds,” Gerke said. “This doesn’t and helps you track the missile better, which helps you get first-time hits.”

Sgt. Joe Conway, also an 11B infantryman, said he had used the ITAS equipment during Operation Iraqi Freedom and was impressed with the equipment’s sighting capability.

“I thought the new ITAS was awesome,” Conway said. “You can see they implemented the ideas we submitted from the field, so it’s even better than what I used.”

The ITAS can be mounted on vehicles, such as Humvee’s and Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles, or it can be used on a tripod, which makes the equipment ideal for both mounted and unmounted missions, Mattson said.

Mattson also said that lessons learned in combat, videos and other useful information can be found on the TOW ITAS website (https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/613614), which is available to all government personnel who have access to Army Knowledge Online website.

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