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NEWS | April 26, 2021

Army Reserve Soldiers Conduct Operator New Equipment Training at Fort McCoy

By Zachary Mott 88th Readiness Division

Soldiers from across the Army Reserve attended training here to learn the basics of the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station as part of the Operator New Equipment Training, during one-week iterations April 19 to 23 and April 26 to 30.

The weeklong training plan allowed Soldiers to learn the capabilities and operation of the M153 CROWS as well as the different weapons systems it can employ. Different iterations allow for the MK-19, M-2, M-240B, M-249 and Javelin systems to be mounted atop any tactical vehicle.

“It’s a very accurate system; one shot one kill,” said Ignacio Nevarez, a CROWS writer and engineer who has been a CROWS trainer since 2005, with U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command.

Ignacio said they go over several different items, including the system menus, four components – display control panel, control grip, main processing system, and weapons system; and how to maneuver and fire with control grip. Friday is reserved for live-fire familiarization where Soldiers were provided 120 rounds to use to engage with multiple targets.

The CROWS is an externally mounted weapons control system that allows the gunner to remain inside the vehicle, protected by armor while remotely firing various crew-served weapons.

“It’s a lot like Call of Duty. It’s really simple as far as these systems go,” said Spc. Brandon Knudson, a military policeman with the 79th Military Police Company, in Wabasha, Minn. “We’ve only been doing this for four or five days now and I think we’ve got it on lock. It’s simple to learn, the controls are easy, the screen is very clear.”

The class of 20 students attended classes and hands-on lessons before firing the M-240B mounted on either high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles or light, medium tactical vehicles on the final day of instruction.

“The coolest thing about the CROWS is all of its capabilities with how far it can shoot and see,” said Sgt. Austin Shinler, a combat engineer with the 367th Engineer Battalion, St. Joseph, Minn.

Another important element that CROWS brings to the warfighter is that it removes the need for a Soldier to stand in a turret and be exposed to potential enemy fire.

“It adds improved safety to personnel,” said Sgt. Corbin Rud, a military policeman with the 79th MP Company. “You no longer have a gunner out in the open. You now have him at least inside the Army vehicle. So that helps out.”

Nevarez added that CROWS systems also help to protect a gunner from rollovers, snipers and improvised explosive devices.

Training on the M153 CROWS will continue through the OPNET program and it is something these Soldiers all recommend.

“This is a great opportunity and I’m glad my unit put me in for the class,” said Knudson, who is also preparing to teach his unit through the Train the Trainer program. “It’s always nice to learn new things. The Army is always changing.”

Shinler also said he recommends this class because, “it’s fun and it’s interesting.”