Stryker MGS Gunnery, like any stabilized platform gunnery, is the pinnacle moment of what it means to be a “tanker”. It is the culminating training event of the TY which pushes you and your crew as you fight your vehicle, resist the clock by scanning and finding targets and ultimately, putting reticle on target and feeling the concussive BOOM! from the main-gun. While it is fun, exhilarating and competitive, gunnery is just like anything else is life…you get out of it what you put into it. As I said before, gunnery is a culminating training event, which means that all TY you and your crew will train, train and train some more. The only true key to success (some would say luck) is to prepare. That being said, here are my 5 Tips to a Successful MGS Gunnery.
5. Work Together, No “I” in TEAM: This does not only apply to you and your crew-members. Gunnery is a very logistical and maintenance driven training event. To properly execute a gunnery, there must be an organized, collective effort. There will be crews from across the Brigade, maintenance technicians, support staff, medics, fuelers…you name it. In order to be successful, teamwork is essential. If the maintenance personnel are not being treated with respect or doing all the work, then there is a good chance your vehicle may not be fixed…which affects your ability to shoot. Not pulling your weight and clearing your vehicles of brass and ammo may upset the ammo support personnel. Basically, everyone has to work together, pull their weight and be respectful to one another to ensure that things are going smoothly. Things going smoothly and efficiently equals successful gunnery…
4. Do Everything By the Book: Gunnery is not the time to make mistakes…that being said, no matter what you think your expertise is, conduct AACs, boresight and zero by the book! Yes, I mean pull out your TM or pamphlet and do everything step by step. I have been a tanker for a long time and my gunner is a Master Gunner…we still pull out the book every time we do AACs and boresight our truck. When we see other crews struggling to hit targets or even zero, we find 99 times out of 100 that they missed something that, if they went by the book, could have been avoided. If you ask me, I don’t want to take that risk when I go to qualify. I want to know that my fire control system is tight…100%.
3. Actually Train: I know this seems like a “no brainer” but you would be surprised to see how many crews actually train and the ones that go through the motions to put the checks in the boxes. Prior to gunnery you will execute Tables I, II and III which should mean that everyone is at the same proficiency, right? Well, this is not the pattern I have seen over the years. Crews that are constantly improving and/or successful each and every year push each other. In addition to the requirements from CGST and Tables I-III, these crews are in the M-AGTS training…or in their turret conducting “tree-line” tracing exercises….or with their driver practicing berm drills. This tip mainly stems from leadership and their ability to determine the weaknesses of each crew and providing tough training to fill that gap and set them up for success. Crew that train hard are successful on the range…PERIOD!
2. Understand Your Platform…Inside and Out!: When not training, pull out some TMs or FMs and read… Get with the Senior Gunners and VCs…Learn everything you can about the vehicle, its mechanics, how the Fire Control System works, troubleshooting procedures, etc. There isn’t a year that goes by, especially on the MGS platform, that I do not learn something new. Knowing as much about your vehicle will set you up for success. For example, my gunner and I have a very thorough understanding of the MGS and how the FCS works. So, before every scenario, we go through our checks to ensure everything is tight. One thing we regularly do is correct our inputs into the FCS. Because we run our AC, our ammo temperature is MUCH lower than the ambient air temp outside the vehicle. So, we always make sure that we input that temperature. A few crews could not understand why they were consistently hitting low on every target. Taking a look at their FCS, we noticed that their ammo temp was entered as the same temp as the ambient air, which was about 15 degrees difference! Understanding the big picture how your platform works enables you to make smart decisions and corrections to ensure success.
1. Understand How You Are Scored…Take VCE Recommendations Can’t tell you how many times a VCE (Vehicle Crew Evaluator) has walked into an AAR, pointed out the mistakes the crews were making and the crew get back in the turret and kept making the same mistakes. A prime example of this was a crew I VCE’d that was struggling to find targets, engage them within the timing standard and just not doing well. They struggled all through Tables IV and V and were beating themselves up. I simply sat down with the crew and explained how the timing matrix was broken down and why, because they were not utilizing their defilade time in the defense, they were not qualifying engagements despite having killed the target. I also explained to their gunner how to rapidly scan and the importance of knowing where his switches were without looking and how that would help with his target acquisition time. I also left them with a, “Don’t beat yourselves up…fix these few things and you guys will be good to go!” pep talk and sure enough…they were first time goes on Table VI. They thanked me after and now, because they truly understand how they are scored and took my recommendations to heart, they are able to better train and fight their vehicle. After all, gunnery is a TRAINING event…there is always room for improvement, that’s why we TRAIN!
Thanks for reading my tips on how to have a successful Stryker MGS Gunnery. If you have experience with the MGS and have some tips for success you would like to share, just leave a comment below to do so.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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