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Black Dragons bring ‘Smoke,’ train troops

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CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq – Most often known for their duties as platoon sergeants and senior enlisted section leaders, sergeants first class are charged with the responsibility of training and mentoring soldiers.

Sgt. 1st Class Bobby “Smoke” Brewster, an artillery platoon sergeant assigned to the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, performs these duties on a daily basis while deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

“As a platoon sergeant, it’s very important to get my soldiers trained and ensure they carry out the mission and complete operations (in a safe manner),” said Brewster, the field artillery platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Battery B, 5th Bn., 82nd FA Regt.

Currently on his seventh overseas tour, and fourth to Iraq, Brewster is the master gunner and non-commissioned officer responsible for teaching classes on M198 155mm howitzers at the Ghuzlani Eagle Training Site on Contingency Operating Site Marez.

“This is my second time here in Mosul, Iraq, training Iraqi army soldiers,” said Brewster, a native of San Diego. “This time around, I’m showing them how to operate the howitzers, which adds another piece of equipment to their arsenal and allows them to provide better security.”

Prior to teaching the IA field artillerymen how to proficiently operate the weapon system, Brewster trained the majority of his troops on how to operate the “old school” howitzer.

“I know more about this equipment, so I made sure my soldiers were trained to standard prior to teaching the Iraqis,” said Brewster. “Most of my guys have never used this equipment, so it’s good training for both sides.”

In advanced individual training, field artillery soldiers are taught how to use the M109 howitzer, which is a self-propelled howitzer, allowing crews to maneuver it on a tracked platform as opposed to the M198, said Brewster.

Brewster and the other “Black Dragon” soldiers began training their Iraqi counterparts on the indirect fire weapon system in June.

“Brewster is the most experienced artillery platoon sergeant that we have in the battalion, and he is doing a phenomenal job training the U.S. and Iraqi field artillerymen,” said 1st Sgt. Mario Lindsey, senior enlisted adviser assigned to Battery B, 5th Bn., 82nd FA Regt.

In addition to training the Iraqi soldiers, Brewster and his platoon are also responsible for conducting security missions and escorting the Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team throughout U.S. Division-North.

“I have watched Brewster and his platoon switch from conducting security missions to training brand new IA soldiers and turning them into competent artilleryman by utilizing the crawl, walk and run method,” said Lindsey, a native of DeFuniak Springs, Fla. “He’s spent countless hours working to ensure his soldiers receive nothing short of excellent training. All the work ‘Smoke’ and his troops are doing is paying off.”

After serving in the Army for more than two decades, Brewster said he still has a couple of years left in him after this deployment.

“I’m going on 22 years of being in the military, and I’m still having fun,” said Brewster. “It’s all about training and being able to be with the troops. I love doing it, so I think I got a couple of years left in me.”

Meanwhile, the soldiers of 4th AAB will continue their deployment supporting operations in U.S. Division – North before heading home later this fall.

Article by United States Division - North