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Cavalry transformation a natural
TAG at Operation Jump Start

For some Cavalry Soldiers, transforming to an Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) may seem like a two-mile sprint, but for members of the 102nd Cavalry Squadron, 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, it’s a walk in the park.

“It’s all coming together…it’s a natural,” said Spc. William Shawger, of Alpha Company. Members of the 102nd are finding Annual Training at Fort Drum a time to strengthen, improve and build on what is now commonly referred to as Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Target, Acquisition (RSTA). According to 1st Lt. John Craddock, of Charlie Company, “the troops absolutely love the transition.”

Much has changed in regards to engagement. Once protected by armor, the RSTA Soldiers now rely on the M-16 rifles, MK-19 Grenade Launchers, M-249 Squad Automatic Weapons, 50-caliber machine guns and a radio for protection.

Switching tankers to infantrymen may have taken the man out of the tank, but not the Soldier out of the man. Fighting speed remains strong for the once armored Soldier. As drastic as the changes in weapons are, so is the training. Where it was once difficult during Annual Training, not to mention drill weekends, to work out the logistics and maintain the tanks, now the RSTA soldiers have the flexibility to drill with their new weapons.

“We can keep the equipment with us,” said Craddock. Because of this, the Soldiers have plenty of time to cross-train into their new Military Occupational Specialty codes (MOS). Scheduled drills are beneficial and enjoyable. Easy access to and low maintenance of weapons make training reliable. Staff Sgt. Mitchell Costa of Charlie Company said, “You ask any one of the troops what they like about drills or AT, and they will say shooting, training and learning about their MOS.”

Mounted scouts seem to take the challenge with confidence. Capt. Noel Lyn-kew, Commander of Bravo Company, said “the learning curve is exponential…and the trigger time behind weapons is phenomenal.” Many characteristics that made them successful as tankers are identified in their new position. Firing commands, working in crews, executing tactical movements and vehicle weapons are familiar terms to the tankers.

After firing more than 32,000 rounds in four days, Staff Sgt. Donald Sullivan, of Charlie Company, who is a prior Marine, said, “This is the stuff that’s going to save us…we smoked a lot of rounds, we came out here to work and that’s what we did!”

In today’s world, there are no guarantees of what will happen, but the 102nd Cavalry knows that whatever they’re called to do, they will be well-equipped, trained and with men they can count on.


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Volume 33 Number 3 Staff / Information
(c) 2007 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs