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USAREUR Public Affairs 
June 27, 2003

Live fire exercise in Iraq
Story and photo by Pfc. Brandon Aird, 173rd Airborne Brigade Public Affairs

KIRKUK, Iraq -- Even though 1st Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade, 63rd Armored Regiment, is deployed to Iraq, they're still conducting live fire exercises to hone in on their infantry skills. On the outskirts of Kirkuk, the regiment used a deserted Iraqi military range for life fire exercises.

For most of the lower enlisted soldiers in the regiment, Operation Iraqi Freedom is their first combat environment. After months of patrols and numerous combat operations the soldiers needed to be reoriented with all their weapon systems.

To make the range seem more like a combat environment fires were lit and human targets and vehicles were strategically placed on the range.

"Were doing a mock gunnery," said Sgt. Raja Richardson, Bravo Company 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. "Were going to engage the targets with 25 mm, .50 cal. machine gun, MK19, and AT-4's."

The mock gunnery training exercise is focusing on crew coordination.

"Were not focusing on qualifying with our weapons," said Richardson. "We've already done that back in Germany." 

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle's crew consists of a tank commander, a driver, a gunner and a dismount.

"Usually when the ramp drops the dismount gets out and goes ahead of the Bradley clearing a path as they go," said Richardson.

A dismount can range from one to six soldiers.

"This training is always important," said Richardson. "To be honest with you, you can never get enough of this.  I've been gunning for three years now and you always learn something new every time you're up there. You get quicker and better at your job."

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