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Field Training, Gunnery and Equipment

 

The Eaglehorse Squadron conducted all normal field training and gunnery events related to any cavalry unit in Germany.  The Squadron routinely participated in several major maneuver exercises each year to include either Fall or Winter REFORGER, Corps level exercises and maneuvers at the Regimental and Squadron level to train for and conduct the annual ARTEP requirement. We had access to a "maneuver rights area”, a long, wide terrain corridor running parallel to the border trace but back by several kilometers where the Eaglehorse could execute field training.  When not actually in the field, the officer corps of the Squadron was frequently tasked to serve as umpires or support personnel for other V Corps unit maneuvers. 

 

Many of our Spring and Summer FTX's featured long road marches and partially simulated maneuver along farm roads and trails. After the Fall harvest was in, field training had more latitude for cross country maneuver. Particularly in Winter, the tanks and APC's finally had free reign although minimizing maneuver damage was a command concern at all levels. Armored vehicle movement at night was an issue. The massed road marches we all recall from REFORGER occurred but open cross country maneuver was very carefully monitored.

 

The MILES system had not been widely issued as of 1981; determining the outcome of force on force activities was decided by umpires, one of the many concessions we lived with. Often, platoon leaders and platoon sergeants started briefings for their men with , “if we really were at war we would ... but ....”.  When I left Germany, the most sophisticated training devices we had at our immediate disposal was the Dragon ( M47 ) LET trainer and the pneumatic trainer inserts for the 155mm howitzers.

 

 At the Wildflecken Training Area, a small maneuver space allowed for some realistic cross country training at the platoon / Troop level. Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels offered larger free maneuver space although the Squadron was only allocated one or two visits per year.

 

The Eaglehorse also had free access to the Reiterswiesen training area, about five kilometers from Daley Barracks. This small strip of land, about four kilometers long, held our rifle range, ammunition supply point and the HAWK site for the Battery stationed at Daley. There were tank trails and sufficient cover to allow low density training at the section level and dismounted operations.

 

Gunnery and live fire training was conducted at Wildflecken (WTA) and Grafenwoehr (GTA). Tanks, scouts, mortars and the Howitzer Battery all had demanding programs to reach and maintain individual / crew proficiency standards. From the mid 1970's through early 80's, the tankers fired training tables several times per year at WTA in preparation for annual qualification at Grafenwoehr.  Firing was  done with both full scale training ammunition and sub caliber devices.  At Reiterresen, we had a sub caliber tank range using the in bore 22 CAL device. As I recall, the training benefit on this site was marginal. Reiterresen did provide space for ranging exercises and “dry fire” TCQC (tank crew qualification course).

 

Scouts and mortars conducted their own live fire training and when possible, training events were integrated for mutual support. At WTA, scouts would fire crew served weapons and adjust mortar fire on one set of ranges while calling in spot reports to the platoon leader. The tanks would then occupy their range and conduct live fire. The 4.2 inch mortars would fire illumination rounds for tank gunnery night fire.

 

The M551 Sheridans fired their missile on an allocation of one per Troop at GTA during the annual qualification cycle. TOW and Dragon live fire, always a major event, was conducted at GTA. The Howitzer Battery, because of the range constraints at Wildflecken, maintained their own training cycle to include separate visits to GTA for annual ARTEP and safe fire certifications.

 

In addition to the normal course of firing events, as new equipment was fielded to the Eaglehorse, additional maneuver and weapons training was scheduled to insure complete crew training and readiness. At least up through 1983, USAREUR had not fielded a large number of simulators to support training; gunnery skills were honed and tested with the “big blue bullet”. 

         

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