KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- The United States is turning its attention to fighting insurgent military in the southern and eastern region of Afghanistan. In an effort to protect our troops on this constantly changing battlefield, the U.S. has purchased new technology, equipment and vehicles.
One of the newest soldier tools is the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station CROWS II, which provides soldiers with the capability to acquire and engage targets all in the safety of their armored vehicle.
"It will save lives with the soldier being able to operate the weapon while staying in the vehicle. Second, it helps with positive identification of a target using the improved optics," Master Sgt. David Fyock, the Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan electronic warfare office and counter improvised explosive device non-commissioned officer from Kennerdell, Pa., said. "Also by using the optics on the weapon system, it provides another method of looking for IEDs."
The CROWS II effectively, efficiently and safely allows fighting crews to carry out missions.
They are able to do this because of the CROWS' three-axis stabilized mount that contains a sensor suite and fire control software, which allows soldiers to engage and defeat targets under the move. The sensor suite makes it possible to identify, engage and defeat targets under any condition with its daytime video camera, thermal camera and laser rangefinders.
"The controls of the CROWS II are a little bit easier for soldiers to learn," CROWS II training specialist Samuel Cottrell, Rosedale, said. "It has a few more bells and whistles that CROWS I didn't have."
Fairly new to Afghanistan region, soldiers will receive a five-day course on the weapon system. They will understand the inner workings and capability of the system as well as its proper use with a weapon upon the completion of the course. Soldiers can use the MK19 automatic grenade launcher, M2 .50 caliber machine gun, M240B medium machine gun and M249 squad automatic weapon with the CROWS II. Soldiers will also have the opportunity to do day and night operations with the weapon system. All the training comes together on the fifth day as soldiers will fire ammunition.
"I'm six days from rolling outside the wire. I feel pretty confident with this system as opposed to having to be in the gunner hatch. I think it is definitely going to make a vast different," 317th Field Artillery cannon crew member Bobby H. Thomas, Spring Lake, N.C., said.
As the numbers of soldiers in the southern region who plan to drive on the Afghan roadways increase, the CROWS II is quickly being supplied to units. The JSC-A is taking responsibility to ensure the smooth distribution of CROWS II within Afghanistan, according to Chief Warrant Officer 5 David N. Conrad, the JSC-A maintenance management technician, from Madison, Wis.
They will supply units with the weapon system based on their mission.
"It is another tool for (soldiers)," Cottrell said. "It is not the answer for everything. It is a good system and gives the war fighter a little more capability."
Another tool is added to the war fighter belt as the U.S. continues to look for new equipment, technology and vehicles to protect our soldiers.