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Vanguard troops set unique training area
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Members from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team sling-load an M113 on a CH-47 helicopter Aug. 27 on Fort Stewart. - photo by Staff Sgt. Elvis Umanzor

Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team created a one-of-a-kind training area Aug. 27 on Fort Stewart.

Soldiers from 731st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company cleared and then marked a path free of unexploded ordnance.

Capt. Ashley Philbin, the company commander, 731st EODC, said her soldiers needed to clear the path because the training area is an impact area.

After the training area was cleared, four soldiers who completed the sling-load inspector-certified course connected M113 armored personnel carriers to a CH-47 helicopter in turns.

The helicopter placed each of the seven M113s in pre-designated points marked by EOD personnel.

“We are putting in M113s so soldiers can engage targets 100 to 600 meters away with crew-served weapons and call for fire on targets,” said Capt. Bryan DiPalermo, the officer in charge of the target insertion. “This range will closely replicate long call for fire scenarios soldiers will see at the Joint Readiness Training Center [at Fort Polk, La.].”

The range was not completed without difficulties. There were many guidelines and regulations to adhere to.

One of the many challenges was sling-loading the seven M113s.

“This is a unique sling. The reason why it’s so important is because it’s an uncertified sling load. By uncertified it means it’s not on any manuals,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua P. Hoffman, the target insertion noncommissioned officer in charge. “The M113 was stripped down to meet the weight requirements for airlifting.”

DiPalermo said the newly completed training area is the first range on Fort Stewart that will allow commanders to conduct crew-served weapons firing and call for indirect fire simultaneously.

“This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in my air assault days,” Hoffman said.

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