Fort Drum Soldiers Pair with Air Force Personnel for Mortar Training

Fort Drum entrance sign

FORT DRUM — The coordinates were called out, the mortars were set, and the ensuing blast could be felt shaking the ground deep into the post's ranges.

"The goal is for it to land exactly where we call it on the grid," said Capt. Travis H. Young.

The training cycle was underway for soldiers of 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment.

The unit, part of the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, is resetting its training after returning from its most recent Afghanistan deployment earlier this year.

On Wednesday, that effort meant resetting their training of its mortar systems, using both 81 and 120-millimeter rounds during day and night fires.

A pair of mortar systems were set up during an afternoon firing session, targeting to land within 40 meters of each other. Prior to firing the shots, soldiers took into account information about things like temperature and wind speed at their firing area and at the target, approximately three kilometers away.

The unit paired its forward observers with Air Force personnel for the exercise, giving them a glimpse of how the soldiers do their work.

"The info you give, it lets you know it's getting the effects you want," said Spc. Charles E. Malone, one of the forward observers.

Though Wednesday's training only involved mortar fire, future trainings may bring that skill set and combine it with operations for Army artillery units, and possibly Air Force aviation units.

"Instead of hitting the enemy with one thing, it's massing many things at one time," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Thai H. Nguyen, who was attached to the 10th Mountain Division unit for the training. "It's a huge impact. We can really push the enemy back."

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