Learning and lethal: Army Reserve Soldiers shoot gunnery at Operation Cold Steel III

By Maj. Thomas Piernicky | 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) | Feb. 8, 2019

FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. — U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers conducted mounted gunnery live-fire training, here, Feb. 6, 2019, as part of Operation Cold Steel III. 

Operation Cold Steel III is a training exercise where individual and vehicle crew-served weapons platform qualification take place across several military installations. U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers will train and qualify on M2, M19 and M240B weapon systems in ground and mounted military vehicle platforms to include Humvees, FMTVs, HEMTTs and HETs. 

For more information on Operation Cold Steel III, please visit: https://www.usar.army.mil/ColdSteel/

The training provided by OCS III enhances the lethality and readiness of today’s Army Reserve to support military operations around the world. 

“We are on the road to readiness,” said 1st Lt. Jacob Reed, a range safety officer with the 729th Transportation Company. “We are trying to get crews qualified with machine guns, M2, M240B and M19, so when they deploy and go down range they have the skills and capability to keep our convoys safe.”

Safety is a significant concern during military live-fire operations. Each vehicle crew progresses through a series of qualification tables to prepare them for shooting live ammo. The progressive training builds confidence in the crews as they engage in their final live-fire qualification table VI. 

“I feel extremely confident,” said Spc. Dakota Walton, a HMMWV gunner with the 957th Transportation Company based in Denton, Texas. 

Despite the feeling of confidence, the crew faced several challenges during the training. Weather, long days, fatigue and crew member swaps can make qualifying difficult. 

Two members of Walton’s original crew were injured or could not attend due to recovering from surgery. This meant a driver was brought over from different vehicle while another Soldier took on the role of the vehicle commander. Switching crew members can bring communication challenges as the team learns to work together. 

“It has been really challenging,” said Spc. Issa Shogunle, the vehicle commander for Walton’s crew. “The first day was really hard for me. I once thought about quitting and taking over a new position, but so far it has been good and communication has been really good with the driver and gunner.”

Communication between crew members is critical to identifying targets, especially at night. Each member must scan the training area to find the target so the gunner can engage.

“During night it is very hard to see the targets,” said Spc. Dominic Eischen, Walton’s driver. “Finding my use at night is probably the most difficult.”

As each Soldier finds something to challenge them, they come away from the training having gained new experience and confidence. Shogunle appreciated the opportunity to learn things in his new leadership position. 

“This is one of my very first leadership positions,” said Shogunle. “It gave me a little bit of experience to use back at my unit or in the civilian world.” 

The 957th Transportation Company is part of the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). The 4th ESC is made up of Soldiers, civilians and their families in units headquartered throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. As part of America’s Army Reserve, these units are trained, combat-ready and equipped to provide military and logistical support in any corner of the globe.