New weapon system keeps Soldiers safer on road
Story and photos by Pfc. Lisa A. Cope
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station helps keep Soldiers safe on the road by increasing accuracy and keeping the gunner inside of the protected vehicle.
Capt. Colby P. Tippens, the commander of F Company, 2nd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Cookville, Tenn., native, said he believes his gunners are safer now that his unit uses the CROWS on its Humvees.
"The gunner is way more protected," he said. "It is not a (Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle), but you do not have a guy who is sitting up there behind a couple pieces of rolled steel and ballistic glass."
Tippens said the three cameras used by the CROWS helps the accuracy of his gunners.
"This is a combat multiplier … like having a sniper team," he said. "This is an additional tool in our kit that we can pull out and use to help protect ourselves. This is absolutely an asset."
Spc. Christopher D. Baird, a gunner with F Company, 2/278th ACR out of McMinnville, Tenn., and a Franklin, Tenn., native, graduated at the top of the five-day CROWS training course.
Baird said he likes that the CROWS is compatible with four weapons, which allows him to choose the weapon that is appropriate for each mission. The CROWS supports the M-2 .50-caliber machine gun, the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, the M-240B machine gun and the MK-19-3 40 mm grenade machine gun.
"We like the M-2 on top because it is pretty reliable, same with the 240," he said. "You've got that accuracy and reliability factor, and that is pretty important when you are outside the wire."
Baird said another feature he appreciates is surveillance mode, in which the barrel of the weapon elevates and the cameras can be moved independently of the weapon.
"Our mission out there is to win hearts and minds," he said. "(Surveillance mode) is definitely a good thing when you are rolling out there; you do not want to be flagging people all the time."
Baird said overall he believes he is more effective and secure on the road when using the CROWS.
"It gives you a pretty good sense of security," he said. "You are within the confinements of your armor, and you can look out pretty far even when it's pitch black outside. We are pretty confident with our gunnery skills, but this weapon system takes all the thinking out of it."
Spc. Christopher D. Baird, a Franklin, Tenn., native, and Spc. Graham T. Binkley, an Ashland City, Tenn., native, both gunners with F Company, 2nd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), attach the M-2 .50-caliber machine gun to the Common Remotely Operated Weapon System before a mission April 7 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
The Common Remotely Operated Weapons System is shown attached to an M-2 .50-caliber machine gun without the barrel mounted, at the F Company, 2nd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) company area April 7 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.