After a long day and an exhausting patrol in vicinity of west Baghdad, the platoon got the call over FM radio that no one wants to hear after spending more than 12 hours patrolling Iraqi neighborhoods in the hot sun.
“Turn around and go back out,” said Spc. William Babineau, a forward observer with 3rd Detachment, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team.
“When we arrived, the Iraqi soldiers were taking heavy contact from two floors of a three story building and at that time, we decided to call in close air support. I told the Iraqi army major to get his guys back because we are going to drop a bomb on the building.”
Babineau said after they received clearance from higher headquarters to execute the CAS request, they were able to drop a 500-pound precision guided bomb on the building, which neutralized the enemy threat and allowed the IA forces to break contact and regroup at a local base with no injuries.
“A forward observer and his radio are capable of destroying anything on the battlefield,” Babineau said with a grin.
Training, as with all military occupational specialties, is necessary to maintain tactical and technical proficiency.
“This is the premiere collective training event for the unit this year,” said Lt. Col. Tobin R. Clifton, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment, 30th ABCT, N.C. Army National Guard. “This is our chance to conduct full-blown battalion operations as we prepare to provide direct fire support for the 30th ABCT.”
Like their active-duty counterparts, National Guard Soldiers must maintain individual, section and unit level certifications.
With many skills that are often considered perishable, the forward observers get training whenever and wherever they can.
“You have to brush up during your off time at home, or else you will lose your skills,” said Staff Sgt. Donavan Bell, a team leader from 3rd Detachment, HHC, 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th ABCT, N.C. National Guard.
“It is important to know all of the ways to do this job.”
“I am the king of battle,” said Babineau. “It is my job to rain death on the enemies of my country with every asset the United States has to offer.”
Throughout military history, the field artillery has become known as the “king of battle,” and nothing displays the king’s power more than the forward observer.