Training military men in Alaska
Brix Hahn/Sun Star Reporter
November 13, 2012
Nov. 6, 2012 soldiers gathered in the After Action Review Building in the Yukon Training Area waiting to be briefed for their table eight, the final exam of Stryker Mobile Gun System operations. The soldiers were training for deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq.
“You do your thing and the bad guys get blown up,” Capt. John Farmer said, referring to his job in the Army.
First Lt. Jonathan Austin spent the better part of Oct. and Nov. camping in the Yukon Training Area on Fort Wainwright. In order to become qualified to operate the MGS, Austin was required to camp in an arctic tent for two and a half weeks, sometimes facing temperatures as low as negative 20. Additionally, Austin was required to share his small quarters with nine other men—as well as all their gear and supplies.
An MGS is a miniature tank on wheels. It takes three men to operate a MGS, a driver, a gunner and a vehicle commander. The gunner pulls the trigger of the gun and the vehicle commander calls the orders. The vehicle commander is often has the highest ranked among the three.
According to Austin, the vehicle commander, all it takes is “one switch to go from the main gun to the machine gun.”
Austin is a vehicle commander. As an average sized man, his compartment in the MGS is barely big enough for him to squeeze into while completely geared up.
The cost of an MGS, ammunition, gear and chains is approximately $4 million.
If the men on YTA pass their table eight on Wednesday, Army tradition says that they will be allowed to name the gun on their MGS.