HAMMELBURG, Germany — Drill sergeants teach new recruits in basic training that every Soldier in the Army is an infantryman first. And apparently that holds true for artillery Soldiers as well.
To prepare for an upcoming deployment to Iraq, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment conducted three days of infantry training here beginning Jan. 10.
The training consisted of several basic infantryman tactics such as clearing a building, proper operation of a vehicle security check point, dismounted foot patrols and operations in an urban terrain.
Army Capt. Scott Emmel, B Battery, 1-7 FA commander, said, it's important for artillery Soldiers to be proficient in infantry tactics because once they're deployed there's no telling when they may need those skills.
"We're responsible for shooting artillery rounds," Emmel said, "but if the mission changes when we go to Iraq, we have to be prepared to fill an infantry role so we're starting to train on those tasks."
While the 1-7 FA Soldiers had been training on their artillery tasks in previous months at Grafenwöhr and Wildflecken training areas, this is the first time many of them have had a chance to practice basic infantry skills in some time.
"We trained on artillery tasks right up until [the unit went on] leave, and when we got back, we started with the infantry training. Essentially, it's like starting at ground zero," Emmel said. "We're starting with low-level tasks like movement [techniques] and reacting to fire."
And the infantry tactics were not something the 1-7 FA Soldiers were able to learn overnight.
"It's a lot different than what we're used to," said Army Pfc. Samuel Emard.
One of the biggest differences between infantry and artillery is the communication, Emard added.
"Using hand signals is a little hard to get used to, especially for the guys who have been [in the artillery field] for a long time," he said.
Despite the learning curve, Emard said he is confident the training will help "keep them alive" once they deploy.
Since infantrymen operate in a mostly urban environment in Iraq, such training was especially important.
"We're trying to maximize the use of the training site here in Hammelburg. It's a very good [urban training] site," Emmel said. "It gives the Soldiers a good idea of what it's like to walk around in an urban environment. That's hard to get in Schweinfurt."
While the infantry training gives the Soldiers an added dimension to their soldiering skills, they haven't forgotten they're primary role as artillery Soldiers.
"At the end of the month, we're going to Grafenwöhr for more training, and we'll have to be prepared to do both artillery and infantry tasks there," Emmel said. "There's a wide range of tasks we need to be able to execute in preparation for deployment, and we need a lot of time to execute them all."