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'Vanguard' forward observers field M1200 Armored Knight

April 19, 2012

By Sgt. Mary S. Katzenberger, 4IBCT Public Affairs

FORT STEWART, Ga. - In Spc. Alexander Stocker's opinion, the best place to ride in the M1200 Armored Knight is the turret.

"That's where a lot of the cool stuff happens," Spc. Stocker said. "You can lase targets and get target data within one meter of accuracy. And, the guys down below can see what I see … on a monitor."

Specialist Stocker, a forward observer with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, is in week three of training on the M1200 Armored Knight and its incorporated digital systems.

The Duluth, Minn., native, who is taking the operator's new equipment course alongside fire support specialists with 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 4IBCT, said once he and fellow Soldiers complete the course they will be fully certified to operate the vehicle.

"It's a really good system," Spc. Stocker said. "It can be a really good asset for the unit."

While the M1200 Knight is not new to the "Vanguard" brigade, most leaders and Soldiers in the course have not used the equipment in garrison or combat environments.

Staff Sergeant Daniel Kovalik, a forward observer with HHT, 6/8 Cav. Regt., said the M1200 Armored Knight will replace Humvees equipped with similar fire support capabilities.

"We can go anywhere with it," the Johnstown, Pa., native said. "It's an armored vehicle that's pretty much the same vehicle the [military police] have been using but it's facilitated for our fire support [needs]."

Staff Sergeant Kovalik said the technology that makes the M1200 Armored Knight vital to the forward observer's mission is the presence of sensors that allow fire support specialists to paint and lase targets, determine the distance and direction of targets and acquire precise target locations. He said the training he and his Soldiers have received has been thorough.

"The instructors teaching us have been very, very helpful and any question that we have they [have answered]," Specialist Stocker agreed. "[It's been] just an all-around good class."

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