The pop-pop-pop of M4 carbine rifle and M240 machine gun fire cut through the crisp air at Fort Carson Wednesday morning only to be overpowered by earth-shaking .50 caliber machine gun fire from soldiers atop Stryker vehicles.

About 130 soldiers with 1st Brigade Combat Team, part of the 4th Infantry Division, lay on their bellies and peered over 6-foot-tall dirt berms while firing thousands of rounds at targets at multiple distances downrange. For many soldiers, it was their first time participating in a live-fire training exercise.

The training began May 5 and has been extended through May 27 so additional soldiers can experience the live-fire exercise.

“We take our responsibility to be ready at a moment’s notice very seriously,” said Col. Ike Sallee, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team. “So we focus on the fundamentals, the principles, the building blocks and the basics. There is no shortcut to readiness. It takes hard work, realistic training, and a camaraderie among our team to face whatever challenges we face.

“That’s the training we are doing now - fundamentals and basics over and over again - in the toughest conditions we can create. That builds the confidence in our soldiers and families to fulfill our obligations and meet our nation’s expectations.”

Capt. Douglas Taufua, of American Samoa, who commands Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, was excited for his soldiers to experience how they can work with others outside their company on missions.

Artillery fire screamed through the sky from north to south before hitting the ground and exploding into billowing white clouds as soldiers on the ground continued to communicate, restock ammunition and continue firing from a defensive position for more than one hour.

Some soldiers shot grenade launchers while a group off to the side got coordinates and worked as a team to fire mortars.

SFC Ramiro Gonzalez, of Las Vegas, Nevada, said the training was important because it allows soldiers to see the effects of their weapons.

1st Lt. Andrew Snodgrass, of Columbus, Georgia, said as a platoon leader, the training is important so he can see how the soldiers come together as an infantry company.

“It is great training for the platoon and it is going to make us more prepared to do what our nation calls us to do,” Snodgrass said.

After nearly 20 years of war in Afghanistan and a planned pull out of troops by Sept. 11, soldiers are now training for the next unknown war zone.

“We train our soldiers to be ready for any mission and against any foe,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Betty, commander of 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. “By training our soldiers to be professionals, to think through complex problems, and by developing leaders of character and competence we ensure our soldiers are ready for whatever the future holds. I am proud of the commitment, service and sacrifice our soldiers show every day.”

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