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2-12 Field Artillery fired up for Raider Brigade’s ‘Fires Week’

Sgt. Jacqueline Fennell/28th Public Affairs Detachment An M114 155 mm Howitzer Cannon fires on April 10 in support of the best Fire Support Team (FIST) competition at JBLM. Sgt. Jacqueline Fennell/28th Public Affairs Detachment

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Forward Observers from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division "Raiders" were stationed on three outposts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord April 9 to 13. They scanned their sectors before calling in missions to a fire direction center as part of the Raider Brigade's "Fires Week," a training certification and competition. It recognized top performing howitzer sections, FDCs, and fire support teams (FISTs) through a certification process which allowed Soldiers to build core competencies in their crafts.

Although the certification process is a standard requirement, what made the Best FIST certification unique was the level at which it was done, Maj. William C. Pruett, Raider Brigade fire support officer, said. He added that the focus was on certifying collective tasks associated with the fire support team at the company level instead of the individual task level.

"I haven't seen a company fire support certification to this standard in many years and it is fairly difficult to achieve." Pruett said.

Raider gun battery field artillery elements played a critical part in support of the Best FIST competition by providing fires.

"Team is everything," Spc. Nicholas Cottingham, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery gunner and cannon crew member, said. "That's all this is. It's a crew drill so everybody has a role and knows their part so we can stand in for each other."

Sergeant 1st Class Edgar Covarrubias, B Battery, 2-12 FA platoon sergeant, said he fully understands how important fires can be because he served as an infantryman during his first two deployments.

"I saw the big picture," Covarrubias said of his impact as a field artillery cannon operator in Afghanistan. "By providing fire in support of infantry guys when they received contact by the enemy, they were able to move, see the road or the enemy at night."

Fires Week strikes at the heart of the mission essential criteria for creating tactical advantages in combat for the Raider Brigade.

"The Raider Brigade takes pride in its fire supporters and its ability to integrate fires with movement to create maneuvers," Pruett said and added that it was a way for the Raider Brigade to accomplish the fires portion of that equation.

Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, took first place for the Best FIST competition; 2nd Section, C Battery, 2-12 FA claimed first place for the Top Gun competition; and 1st Section, A Battery, 2-12 FA placed first in the Top FDC competition.

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