Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and Nigerien Soldiers concluded a month-long U.S. mortar system training event at Tondibiah, Niger, June 9.
“Not only is this the first-time U.S. forces have trained the Nigerien military on the M224 60 millimeter mortar system, but also marks the first time Taskforce Iron Gray has stepped foot in Niger,” said U.S. Army Capt. Michael Tu, Taskforce Iron Gray, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander. Task Force Iron Gray recently began it's deployment as a rotational security force in support of CJTF-HOA.
Starting in May, eight Task Force Iron Gray Mortar trainers and 25 Nigerien Soldiers began the classroom portion of the training event to learn system procedures and prepare Nigerien mortar leaders to train current and future mortar teams.
“The classroom and hands-on portions of this training are where the foundation of everything is built," Tu said. "The classroom training begins with classes on the use of Lensatic, M2 compasses, protractors, map reading and [military grid reference systems], then gradually goes into mounting the mortars, small/large deflection and elevation adjustments.”
Typical mortar teams consist of a gunner, assistant gunner, squad leader and ammunition specialist.
“Being efficient on the weapon system, and having self-confidence with their part in the gun team is necessary to training success,” said Sgt. Timothy Thorland, mortar system instructor.
The training also included a dry-fire mortar exercise to transfer classroom instruction to firsthand experience.
“Working in the field and having hands-on practice on the equipment is super valuable,” said Nigerien Armed Forces Sgt. Almoust Apha Zazo Abdou. “We really enjoy the relationship between U.S. and Niger forces and hope in the future the U.S. forces will keep training our forces.”
The engagement also included a combat Lifesaver Training Course (CLS), which enhances the Soldiers' ability to provide immediate care until a certified medic can take over or the wounded individual can be evacuated.
“Teaching a combat lifesaving class is very important because medicine and techniques are always changing,” said Spc. Noah Silk, combat medic. “The Nigerien soldiers already have basic knowledge of CLS but this is just a great refresher to update their techniques.”