The incoming command sergeant major to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization visited Program Executive Office Soldier April 17 to look at equipment and gear deploying Soldiers are receiving.
During his visit, Cmd. Sgt. Maj. James Carabello received body armor, Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern Army Combat uniforms and gear for a future trip to Afghanistan as JIEDDO’s top NCO.
He praised the work everyone at PEO Soldier does for Soldiers.
“I will always remain close to this organization (PEO Soldier) because of what you do,” Carabello said. He added that without the equipment PEO Soldier has provided the Army for more than a decade, “Soldiers’ lives would have been lost. We wouldn’t have been as mobile.”
Before being fitted for his body armor, Carabello and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Doug Maddi of PEO Soldier discussed the importance of body armor. Maddi brought up Sgt. Timothy Gilboe. The sergeant, a former Soldier and now a Maine National Guardsman, survived a point-blank AK-47 round because of his body armor.
In 2011 in Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents attacked Gilboe’s unit. The first 60 rounds struck and mortally wounded the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Matt Hermanson, and set on fire his ammunition-filled rucksack. Gilboe set his rifle down to extinguish the flames. A Taliban rushed. Gilboe realized he couldn’t reach his weapon. Reacting on pure fighting instinct, he grabbed the barrel of the Taliban’s AK-47 and pulled it to his chest plate. The shot knocked the wind out of Gilboe, but the plate stopped the round.
“I wouldn’t have thought of that,” Carabello said. The two senior NCOs agreed the level of protection body armor provides Soldiers changes, in a positive way, the way they react in combat.
While being fitted for side plates to his body armor, Carabello noted the plates’ importance. “I’ll be wearing my side plates,” added the former Maneuver Center of Excellence command sergeant major. “They saved my life last time.”
Afterwards, Carabello saw the future of Soldiers’ individual weapons and sensors. In a darkened indoor range on Fort Belvoir, the CSM donned an Advanced Combat Helmet with a mounted Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III. He next handled an M4 with an attached Family of Weapon Sights–Individual (FWS-I) variant. He instantly stepped into the Army’s future.
The ENVG III and FWS-I allows Soldiers to fire their weapons at night without bringing the weapon to their eyes. With the M-4 at Carabello’s waist, the FWS-I sensor wirelessly transmitted the carbine’s aimpoint to the ENVG III display.
Before Carabello fired, Maddi offered his assessment of the ENVG III and FWS-I.
“It’s going to fundamentally change fundamentals,” Maddi said. Shortly afterwards, a series of loud pops preceded starburst flashes down the darkened range. The target was visible only to Carabello because of the ENVG III. The FWS-I allowed him to put 10 out of 10 rounds center mass on the target.
“All in the kill zone,” said a pleased Carabello. “That’s going to completely change the way we shoot.”
While at the range, Carabello saw an XM25 and offered insight on the weapon’s effectiveness. His unit, Combined Task Force Spartan, had one in 2011 when in Zharay District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. He said the XM25 saved his life when the unit encountered the Taliban. He said every time they had to use it, “enemy activity ceased.”
“I saw it work,” Carabello said. “I know it works.”