Highlander Soldiers train for tank gunnery competition

Sgt. Brandon K. Anderson, 4th BCT, 1st AD
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - 10:51pm

Tank crews from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, participated in a tank gunnery exercise at the Oro Grande Range Complex in preparation for the Sullivan Cup competition, May 22.

The competition will be held at Fort Bliss in September.

Dust filled the air and thunderous booms assaulted the senses as the M1A2 Abrams tanks engaged targets at what seemed like impossible distances as they made their way through the tank gunnery range. The course is designed to simulate real-life scenarios tank crews could possibly face when in a deployed environment.

The Sullivan Cup competition tests an armored crew’s ability to adapt and overcome obstacles and scenarios. It requires them to be physically fit, well trained and adaptable.

Staff Sgt. Gabriel Tomelloso, a tank commander, said they’re honing their skills as a crew to be as proficient as possible in preparation for the competition.

“We’re looking for the most capable Soldiers to be a part of our teams,” said Tomelloso. “They not only have to be fast at accomplishing their responsibilities as a tank crew member, but they also have to be well-rounded as a Soldier. They have to be intelligent, and take their jobs very seriously.”

The Soldiers who make the cut and are selected to be a part of these teams will have an added advantage for the upcoming competition. These team members will have been training together for close to a year before the competition.

“Training together for as long as we have gives us an edge, because it takes a long time to develop the kind of teamwork that’s needed to compete at this level,” said Tomelloso.

The targets the teams engage are only exposed for 50 seconds and take the entire team’s combined efforts to successfully destroy. In one scenario the crew is faced with, an enemy sniper must calculate the range and engage the target with the proper weapons system, and then quickly readjust their position and switch weapons to destroy an enemy tank at another unknown distance.

All of these different scenarios require the crews to act as a well-oiled machine, so minimum time is wasted between engagements.

“It takes a long time to train a team to be able to accomplish these types of scenarios quickly and proficiently,” said Tomelloso. “It takes a couple of gunnery runs and hours upon hours of training to be able to operate smoothly as a team.”

Staff Sgt. Justin Trivitt, the master tank gunner for 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 1st AD, said this is the most important type of training these crews can do.

“This type of training is the culmination of everything that we do,” said Trivitt. “These crews are well-trained and will be ready for whatever the competition has to offer.”   

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