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Rangers review Javelin 'flawless' effectiveness during OIF

Army News Service

Release Date: 8/11/2003

By Pfc. David Foley

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Army News Service, Aug. 11, 2003) -- Four Rangers who used the Javelin handheld anti-armor missile system during operations in Iraq and one who fired it while training at Fort Benning spoke about their experiences during a meeting here July 31.

Sgt. Jason Witmer, Cpl. Jeremy Mumma, Spc. Matthew Pickell and Spc. Michael Kithcart, all with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, told a group of Javelin manufacturers and post officials how the system performed in actual combat situations.

All four soldiers fired the weapon in different situations allowing them to give a broad view of its capabilities.

Each of them said the missile system was one of the most vital pieces of equipment they had during the war in Iraq.

Mumma and his team were cresting a hill in western Iraq when they spotted a pair of Iraqi tanks positioned about 1,800 meters away dug into U-shaped bunkers at the base of the hill. Mumma grabbed the Javelin from his team's humvee, engaged the target and fired two missiles at the tanks. Both missiles were direct hits and produced what Mumma called "catastrophic results," destroying each tank almost instantly.

Each Ranger saw similar results after firing the system. Kithcart said there was no doubt about whether the target was destroyed when he fired a Javelin because the explosion was so large it could be seen from about a kilometer away.

They also said they were impressed by the range and lethality of the weapon, but found other uses for the Command Launch Unit, which is basically the brain and eyes of the Javelin.

The Javelin sighting was such an asset that the Rangers said they used them during patrol and surveillance missions.

"As far as surveillance goes, the CLU was better" than the thermal sights the Rangers carried, Mumma said. "If we picked up something on the thermal (binoculars) and couldn't tell what it was, we would pick up the CLU."

Kithcart said the CLU was the best surveillance device they had when it was dark and during the frequent sandstorms because they were able to see things with much more detail than with the thermal binoculars. He said the CLU helped with their mission so much he would have carried it even if he didn't have any ammunition for the system.

"The complete system performed magnificently," said Col. Mike Beasock, TRADOC Close Combat Missile Systems system manager. "The CLU was the best surveillance device they had. The missiles effectively destroyed each target they shot at, ranging from tanks to light vehicles and bunkers.

"Tanks used to scare us," he said, "but now we are looking for armored targets to attack.

"Now we can find them, get out of the vehicle and attack on foot," Beasock said. "To have one infantryman on foot attacking a tank is amazing, and the system is so accurate, if you lock on to a target, it's an assured defeat of that target.

"People were even locking on to mortar positions," Beasock continued. "It is a very reliable system."

The Javelin system has already begun to change the way the Army looks at tanks and other armored vehicles, he said.

The Javelin has proven itself to be so valuable that it is one of the few weapons systems to be designated by name to be in the Army's Objective Force, Beasock said.

"It has such promising growth potential and such 'leap-ahead' compatibility that we must have it in the future," Beasock said.

(Editor's note: Pfc. David Foley is a staff journalist with the Fort Benning Bayonet.)

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