出典 el paso times
原題 Bliss welcmes combat team
Unit is sign of change at post
日時 2006年3月13日
掲載紙面 Section: A Section Page: 1A
筆者 Chris Roberts
フォートブリスの山々に再び轟音が轟いた。金曜日、 Doña Ana射場にて


The 4-1 Cavalry is one of the Army's first brigade combat teams and the first such unit to form at Fort Bliss. A brigade combat team is a unit designed to be more mobile and lethal as an adaptation to the unique conditions presented by the fight against terrorism. The Paladin's 155mm guns and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle's smaller guns are the first to be fired on the ranges since the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment left Fort Bliss in 1995.

For Fort Bliss, the 4-1 Cavalry signals the beginning of a change from air defense artillery to a power projection post. Eventually, the 4-1 Cavalry will become part of the 1st Armored Division, which will come to Fort Bliss from Germany.

The post's population will grow by almost 20,000 soldiers as the transformation -- part of the most recent Base Realignment and Closure round -- takes place.

Col. Stephen M. Twitty, 4-1 commander, said the brigade has about 92 percent of its 4,000 soldiers and most of its equipment. All the Bradleys and Paladins have arrived and all the upgraded Abrams tanks will be on the ground the week after next, he said.

The unit is still waiting for unmanned aerial vehicles, mortars, small arms and some other items, Twitty said. He said he expects to have all the equipment by mid-May.

As soon as the equipment arrives, soldiers are hitting the range to train, Twitty said, adding that the brigade is composed of 82 percent combat veterans. "We're standing by," he said. "When called on to go, we'll be ready."

On Friday, both Paladin and Bradley crews spent time practicing offensive and defensive skills on ranges that have been renovated after more than a decade of disuse.

"Some (target ranges) we had to go out, and out of nothing basically rebuild them from scratch," said Staff Sgt. Brandon Dockery, with the 2-7 Cavalry, which is part of the brigade.

Some targets -- plywood cutouts that simulate light armored vehicles, unarmored trucks and enemy troops -- are stationary and some move on tracks. They are equipped with "electric blankets" that give them the appropriate heat signatures, so soldiers can practice with night vision equipment.

When they are done, 119 Bradleys and 56 tanks will have passed through the ranges, Dockery said.

"You've got a lot of men who have never been on this equipment," said 1st Sgt. Eric Volk, with the 2-7 Cavalry. "So now they're building their confidence, learning how to work together and they're doing a great job of it."

Bradleys can be used for anything from traffic control to combat maneuvers. The Paladins, with their 100-pound explosive rounds, can take out enemy positions with pinpoint accuracy and soften up enemy lines. They also have illumination rounds for night maneuvers. With an 18-mile reach, Paladin crews use old vehicles scattered on the range and topographical features for targets.

Pfc. Timothy Guichard, from Dallas, is a Bradley driver with the 2-12 Cavalry, also part of the brigade.

"Each one handles differently," Guichard said. "This one tends to pull to the right a little bit."

Bracing against 50 mph winds, the combat vets in the group were reminded of Iraqi dust storms. Newer recruits from wetter locales weren't sure what to think.

"I guess it's good to help us prepare" for Iraq, said Guichard, who is anticipating his first deployment. "A big old dust devil ripped through our motor pool."

Twitty said soldiers' spouses are doing most of the work getting settled in their new El Paso homes because of the intensive training schedule, which includes nighttime live-fire exercise.

"The spouses have been taking it in stride," Twitty said. "They understand what we're doing. The better they're trained, the better their chances of surviving in combat."
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