‘Black Knights’ bring steel rain
Staff Sgt. Joseph Wilbanks,
1st BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
FORT IRWIN, Calif. – The “Black Knights” of B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, “Gunners,” stand ready to drop 155 millimeters of destruction on the unsuspecting heads of their enemies at Forward Operating Base Denver on a moment’s notice.
These Soldiers, deadly accurate and well-trained, are putting their skills on display at the National Training Center here Aug. 3 through Aug. 17.
Field artillery is an essential part of any combat-arms combined team. They are capable of delivering precision, long-range support from as far away as 30 kilometers. These specialists in express delivery of high explosives are the go-to Soldiers for line units when things turn ugly, and the Black Knights are only too happy to help.
The “Black Knights” have staked a position out on the corner of FOB Denver that allows them to cover a large portion of the training area. The site is Spartan with only a camouflage net, a truck with rounds and powder, and the M777 155 mm howitzer – but that’s all the Black Knights need to make it rain.
This ability isn’t natural, however; it’s honed and perfected through drill after drill, ensuring the process is as close to perfect as possible.
There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of jobs that have to be worked perfectly to make the magic happen, said Spc. Victor Garcia, a Black Knights gunner. From gunner to chief or smoke, all the jobs are equally important and drilled over and over again.
These drills, when performed well, means the crew can fire as many as 10 rounds a minute.
The Black Knights are not just an offensive weapon, though. They also stand ready in a counter-battery role. This means if the FOB takes indirect fire from the enemy, they track the round back to the source and fire on its position. This process can take less than six minutes.
And all these reasons are why the Combined Team Ready First loves to watch the rain fall.
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