Recruiters have always been dangerous, and this one just
became a lot more dangerous. Spc. Jorge Sanchez is
learning the skills of a Forward Observer (FO), or 13F
in Army lingo. FO’s are commonly known as the deadliest
people on the battlefield.
FO’s are so deadly because as members of the field
artillery, their job is to call for fire on the enemy in
the form of high-explosive shells. A skilled FO
attached to a maneuver unit in the infantry or armor can
quickly end an ambush by the enemy, soften targets for
the infantry and destroy hardened fighting positions.
Sanchez works full time in Orem, Utah, as a recruiter
for the National Guard and the Utah Valley State College
Reserve Officer Training Corps. His training as a
former Marine scout and infantryman makes the 13F skill
a perfect fit for him.
“F-D-C [Fire Direction Control], this is Bravo-One-One.
Adjust fire, over,” Sanchez calls in. He is sitting on
a hilltop three miles from the target area and taking
his test on calling in fire from a grid.
“Adjust fire, out,” replies 2nd Lt. Jessie
Frampton. Frampton confirms to the FO that the
artillery is ready to receive the fire mission.
“Grid …[a six digit grid coordinate]. Break. Direction,
Four-Five-Zero-Zero, over.” Sanchez is targeting an old
abandoned bus in the impact area. The grid is his
estimation of where the bus is on the map, and then he
will guide the artillery directly onto the target.
Sanchez then lets the FDC know what the target is,
what type of round he wants used, and once the bus is
targeted he wants them to fire extra rounds to ensure
that it is destroyed. “One Bus, H-E [high explosive]
quick in effect, out.”
“Target number Alpha-Alpha-Zero-Zero-Seven four rounds,
out,” Frampton calls back. She lets Sanchez know the
fire for effect will be four rounds.
“Zero-Zero-Seven shot, over,” Frampton calls to let
Sanchez know the shot should be any minute.
KABOOM! The 100-lb. high-explosive rounds fired from
155mm howitzers are five miles away, but they still
sound like thunder crashing down.
Photo by Sgt.
Sanchez uses a MELIOS Laser Range Finder to
determine distances to points within the
Sanchez waits for the shell to impact. He scans with
his eyes until he sees the black smoke of the explosion.
He quickly looks through the binoculars so he can direct
fire even closer to the target.
“Zero-Seven, left four hundred, over,” Sanchez calls
into Fire Direction Control to let them know the
adjustment that is required.
“Left four hundred, out.”
After two more rounds from the howitzers, Sanchez is
right on the target and orders the fire for effect on
the abandoned bus.
“Drop Five-Zero, fire for effect, over,” calls in
Within two minutes there are four loud booms, and the
bus is covered in a cloud of smoke. When the smoke
clears, you can see that the bus has moved a few feet
due to the hits and explosions. Any enemy elements near
the target would have been destroyed.
After graduating from the FO class, Sanchez will return to
his job as a recruiter. Although his first love is the
field, he finds recruiting to be another important part
of his life.
“Being a recruiter is a difficult job, but it is real
rewarding. Setting up a kid’s first bank account or
seeing one graduate college and then giving them a job
afterwards. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing
that,” said Sanchez.
Photo by Sgt. Scott Faddis
Photo by Sgt. Scott Faddis
Forward Observers work with the crews of the
howitzers to pinpoint enemy targets on the
battlefield. After calling in a fire mission to
the howitzers, FO’s like Spc. Jorge Sanchez wait
for their shots to hit the target.