Master Gunners, PM SPTD discuss modern battlefield in Working Group

Sergeant First Class John Puddy, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, master gunner recently participated in a Lethality Optimization Working Group at PEO Soldier’s Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices. The seven master gunners worked closely for several days with members of PM SPTD, the Maneuver Center of Excellence, PM Soldier Maneuver Sensors, and PM Soldier Weapons to identify potential opportunities and efficiencies.

FORT BELVOIR, Virginia – Allies and enemies come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes they are only an inch or two in height.

During a recent Lethality Optimization Working Group (LOWG) hosted by Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices (PM SPTD), nine Army Master Gunners used toy soldiers and equipment to demonstrate how Infantry and Armored Combat Teams might take an objective or deal with different challenges on the modern battlefield.

However, this was much more than Soldiers playing with toy soldiers. The discussions, learning outcomes, and long term implications cut straight to the heart of challenges and gaps facing today’s and tomorrow’s Soldiers.

In the face of peer and near-peer fights and the uncertainty of when and where they will occur, PM SPTD is committed to ensuring Soldiers employing laser-based technologies continue to dominate and have a decisive edge on the battlefield.

PM SPTD recently took responsibility for the Army’s laser-based systems. According to Bill Reagan, PM SPTD Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance Contractor and Capabilities Analyst, LOWG will help PM SPTD establish a laser strategy baseline, “as in, here’s how [the Army] is doing it now. We are trying to identify potential opportunities or efficiencies, to develop the strategy and then implement the strategy.”

Sergeant First Class Raymond Miller, 82nd Airborne Division, master gunner recently participated in a Lethality Optimization Working Group at PEO Soldier’s Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices. The seven master gunners worked closely for several days with members of PM SPTD, the Maneuver Center of Excellence, PM Soldier Maneuver Sensors, and PM Soldier Weapons to identify potential opportunities and efficiencies.

“We’re not trying to do this on our own,” Reagan said. “That’s why there are seven Divisions represented during the working group.”

Collaborating with experts like these Master Gunners was underscored early in the conference. “We quickly realized that [PM SPTD], was not tied to the end user as closely or as tightly as we needed to be,” he said. “One of our shortfalls was that we did not understand the mech-armored community. We didn’t understand their challenges or fight,” Reagan said. “That was quite an eye opener.”

The Master Gunners also spent time going through kit-up drills where they considered outfitting Soldiers and formations from scratch. According to COL Chris Schneider, Project Manager Soldier Sensors and Lasers (PM SSL), squad leaders and platoon leaders ought to be able to think through that and provide feedback. “We need to start looking at how we modernize our formations,” he said. “We’ve been really good at looking at a Soldier and not a formation, a squad or a platoon, and make decisions on how it affects that platoon.”

COL Schneider assured the Master Gunners their input would be heard. “The feedback from these kit-up drills is going back to senior leaders,” he said during the out brief.

It was clear from the long hours and level of engagement that the LOWG presented a unique and vital opportunity for the master gunners. “The collaboration between PEO Soldier and us is vital,” said SFC Raymond Miller, 82nd Airborne Division Small Arms Master Gunner. “It gives the engineers and developers an opportunity to interact with the end-user of their products in a way that has never happened before. [The Working Group has] allowed us the opportunity to shape the overall strategy and basis of issue for systems essential to the warfighter.”

Staff Sergeant David Kappel, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, master gunner recently participated in a Lethality Optimization Working Group at PEO Soldier’s Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices. The seven master gunners worked closely for several days with members of PM SPTD, the Maneuver Center of Excellence, PM Soldier Maneuver Sensors, and PM Soldier Weapons to identify potential opportunities and efficiencies.

SFC Daniel V. Coelho, 1st Infantry Division Master Gunner, provided another insight on what they brought to the Working Group. “Master Gunners keep up to date almost daily on the advance of threats that we could face in a real-world scenario. With PEO Soldier and Master Gunners working together, we could stay in front of the enemy in regards to technology in the battlefield. I can keep PEO Soldier informed regularly on what it is that I need to win the fight.”

PM SSL intends to make the most of this engagement by continuing to leverage the knowledge and experience this diverse group of experts. Additional working groups are planned and will be an important part of PM SSL’s pursuit of the next generation of critical technologies that will ensure Soldiers continue to dominate and have a decisive edge on the battlefield.

 


 

SFC Justin Carlson, right, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division master gunner explains how notional Brigade Combat Teams would take an objective during a tabletop exercise. Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices hosted a Lethality Optimization Working Group, consisting of a small group of master gunners from seven divisions that included SFC Carlson and Sergeant First Class Daniel Coelho, left, the 1st Infantry Division master gunner.

Sergeant First Class Andrew Flynn, 101st Airborne Division master gunner explains how notional Brigade Combat Teams would take an objective during a tabletop exercise. Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices hosted a Lethality Optimization Working Group, consisting of a small group of master gunners that included SFC Flynn and Sergeant First Class Daniel Coelho, left, 1st Infantry Division master gunner, SFC Justin Carlson, center, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division master gunner.

 

Sergeant First Class Daniel Coelho, left, 1st Infantry Division master gunner explains how notional Brigade Combat Teams would take an objective during a tabletop exercise. Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices hosted a Lethality Optimization Working Group, consisting of a small group of master gunners that included SFC Trenton Olson, far right, 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment.

Sergeant First Class Daniel Coelho, left, 1st Infantry Division master gunner explains how notional Brigade Combat Teams would take an objective during a tabletop exercise. Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices hosted a Lethality Optimization Working Group, consisting of a small group of master gunners with the intent to identify potential opportunities or efficiencies.

 

 

Allies and enemies come in all shapes and sizes. During a recent Lethality Optimization Working Group at PM SPTD, master gunners from seven divisions used toys soldiers and equipment to demonstrate how infantry and armored combat teams might take an objective and deal with different issues and challenges. While these may be toys, the discussions, learning outcomes, and long term implications cut straight to the heart of challenges and gaps facing Soldiers on the modern and future battlefields.

About Kyle Olson