Soldiers from the battalions within the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, spent a week training on operating a Common Remotely operated Weapon Station Aug. 20 through Friday.
The training was in preparation for the brigade’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan so the Soldiers would be aware of the weapon system they would be using over there.
“It operates remotely,” said Todd Courdrut, an instructor with Tank-automotive and Armaments Command out of Warren, Mich. “It uses a control grip which allows the gunner to manipulate the weapon left, right, up and down.
“It can go as far as 60 degrees in elevation and its max depression is -20, and it can turn 360 degrees in 3.6 seconds,” Courdrut added.
“It’s not too hard to operate,” said Pfc. Ethan D. Montgomery, a rifleman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT. “Different optics: you can see out pretty far, farther than you can with the naked eye, plus you have thermal and a laser range finder.”
According to Courdrut, the CROWS can be mounted with four different weapons: the M2 50-caliber machine gun, MK 19 40mm automatic grenade launcher and the M240 and M249 machine guns.
Courdrut also said it can be mounted on any combat vehicle to include the Buffalo, RG 31, RG 33 and all terrain vehicles.
The class is a five-day course, according to Courdrut. The first day is introduction with the system, the second day is mounting and familiarizing with weapons, third day is bore sighting and simulation. The fourth day the Soldiers are broken up into groups and conduct a day drive with targeting and a written test and the fifth day going to the range to conduct live-fire exercises.
Both Courdrut and Montgomery agree that the CROWS is a definite advantage to Soldiers deployed.
“It’s advantageous because it keeps gunners safely inside the vehicle, as opposed to being up in the gunner’s hatch,” said Courdrut. “With a CROWS, as long as you have a good bore sight on the weapon, you’re going to be almost like a sniper; about 1500-1800 meters, you put the crosshairs on a target, you pull the trigger and it’s going to take that target out.”
“It shoots what you point it at,” said Montgomery. “As long as you have it zeroed properly it’s pretty accurate. And you don’t have to stand in the gunner’s hatch so it keeps you out of harm’s way.”