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Posted: August 10, 2018 2:49 p.m.
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Raiders complete FST certification

CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – Forward observers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment were recognized as the best fire support team in the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at the conclusion of the semi-annual fire support team certification held over the last two weeks at Camp Casey, Korea. 

The awards ceremony during the first week in July marked the completion of two weeks of training and testing. Forward observers from across the brigade were tested on their technical and tactical knowledge and their ability to implement these tasks in a field environment. Events included the core Soldiering skills like the Army Physical Fitness Test, land navigation, and a tactical ruck march but then transitioned into forward observer specific tasks like observation post occupation, fire support planning, and call for fire testing. 

The team from Co. A, 3-69 Armor was led by 1st Lt. Thomas Summerbell and Sgt. Dustin Smith. Summerbell, from Fallon, Nevada,  said the team began training at Fort Stewart in the fall by focusing on the fundamental fire support tasks. 

“We started at square one, pulling out the step by step guide on how to do each Mission Essential Task List  associated with our mission set,” said Summerbell. “We capitalized off of our understanding of the basics and interjected multiple basic building blocks into larger applications.”

The experience on the teams competing ranged from senior noncommissioned officer  with 15 years in the Army to junior Soldiers on their first overseas tour. Pfc. Ryan Bedell hails from Royal Palm Beach, Florida and has been in the Army just over a year. For Bedell, the toughest challenge of the competition came from the weather.

“Land navigation was the worst event for me because it was raining and hard to plot points on the map and do everything,” said Bedell. “The ground was extremely wet, muddy, and slippery while navigating up and down the steep hills.”

The fire support team certification is the first one the brigade has conducted in Korea. The “Raider Brigade” is currently in Korea as the rotational Armored Brigade Combat Team supporting the 2nd Infantry Division. All 13 teams from across the brigade completed the certification. 

"The FiST certification is a semi-annual requirement that ensures our fire supporters maintain a high level of readiness,” said Maj. Luke Zeck, brigade fire support officer. “This training was conducted to assess and certify the Soldiers' ability to provide fires to their maneuver companies through physically and intellectually challenging events.”

Summerbell said the certification gave him the opportunity to validate the training his team had conducted over the last year. 

“I learned a ton about my team, in respect to how goal oriented and driven by competition they are, the type of attitude they possess, and how mindset means everything to team cohesion,” said Summerbell. “My fire support NCO was hard on the junior enlisted Soldiers and it was not because he wanted to break them down but rather to build and craft them into lethal fire support personnel.”

For Bedell, the competition was a chance to represent his team, company, and battalion. 

“Being on the Best Fire Support Team means a lot because it is proof we are the best at our job.”

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