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Rocket systems training on Fort Sill

FORT SILL, Okla._Oklahoma Army National Guard soldiers are getting back to the basics in their annual two week training on Fort Sill.

The 45th Artillery Brigade, 158th Artillery Regiment live fired practice rockets from High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems Sunday afternoon. Staff Sergeant William Reid has been with the National Guard for about 13 years. Now, he helps to train the new soldiers their responsibilities as part of the three member crew.

"The driver is learning, so you have to understand that he is going to make mistakes. The gunner is kind of your right hand man. You have to be able to count on him to be able to get tasks done, but the chief, no matter who makes mistakes the chief is the one who is ultimately responsible," said Reid.

Reid directs the driver where to go and tells his gunner when it is safe to fire the reduced distance training rounds.

"You can see right here this one has shot five rounds. When you have five missing, and there is only one left in the tube, we can manually select which one we want to shoot. We try to keep it balanced," said Reid.

The concrete training rounds they are used in Sunday's exercise can travel anywhere from about four to nine miles. There are three modes that the HIMARS can drive in, including sand. Reid says even with the mud from recent rains, he has been lucky to never get his unit stuck.

"I am the only one of four launchers that have not got stuck in the mud in the early days of this. I had training pulling other vehicles out, so that was pretty fun," said Reid.

Reid's full-time job is to work maintenance on these vehicles, so he knows them inside and out. He says the new National Guard members are learning to know them just as well as he does but it will take some time.

"This is the tough phase. You know don't give up if you are having issues here, this is a learning phase. This is where we are going to make mistakes, but learn from your mistakes and push on," said Reid.

On Saturday, the crews received their yearly certification on live firing rockets. They will continue their training on Monday using these same units. The M142 HIMARS were first put into use in 2007 and can be put on a plane to be flown anywhere around the world. Training for the regiment started at Fort Sill last Saturday and runs through June 13.

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