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Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2011

First Armor School gunnery course begins on post

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The 2nd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 316th Cavalry Brigade, conducted its first Armor Basic Officer Leader Course tank gunnery range July 12 at Brooks Range on Harmony Church. The 19-week course is broken down into several phases, all of which prepare second lieutenants to become platoon leaders.

Seventy-six Soldiers, including three international military students, are enrolled in the ABOLC course. “We’re responsible for training all Army and U.S. Marines and international Armor officers in the basics of Armor warfare here at Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence,” said Lt. Col. Sean Barnes, squadron commander for 2-16 Cav.

Barnes said the focus is on the platoon level and teaching second lieutenants how to command a platoon while cross-talking to other lieutenants in other vehicles.

Capt. Matt Quiggle, commander of L Troop, 2-16 Cav., said because the Cavalry Scouts are the eyes and ears of a unit, training second lieutenants to be trained, competent and agile platoon leaders is critical in the battlefield environment.

Barnes said the training was critical for the Soldiers in order for them to be competent and proficient at using the vehicles and to have confidence in the systems they would be using.

“As you can hear behind you, it makes quite an impact on whoever’s firing. So we have to make sure the guys are comfortable with that weapon system and the only way to do it is to get them out here behind it,” he said. Quiggle said moving with the Armor School to Fort Benning was a great opportunity for ABOLC.

“There’s nothing quite like firing the main gun on an Abrams tank,” Quiggle said. “It’s an awesome experience even for guys who have done it before.”

Quiggle said while Soldiers have a responsibility to be good neighbors and noise-reduction stewards, they also have a responsibility to train them to be competent and successful at their tasks in order to keep people safe.

“But there is nothing that can quite replicate actually being behind that main gun weapon system,” he said. “So we have to get them out here in order to accomplish that.”

Barnes said the course culminates in a FTX, “which is a capstone event that tests students or allows them to apply their knowledge of what they’ve learned over the last 19 weeks in a 10-day war.”

Barnes said before arriving at Fort Benning, he’d been at Fort Knox, Ky., for about a year but was excited about the move here.

“One of the things I personally enjoy is change because it allows us to shake things up — we get rid of the way it’s always been done,” he said.

“It’s a chance to bring rigor back to the course, to try new things — because we got a blank sheet of paper. Not that many people know what we do. We can change things — we get away from the past. It was hard leaving Knox. The Armor School been at Fort Knox for 70 years but we’re excited to be down here.”

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