|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.
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
“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.”
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
“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)
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.