Local News

Fort Bragg troops sharpen shooting skills in Afghanistan

Posted October 12, 2011 12:08 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2011 6:01 p.m. EDT

— The troops with Fort Bragg's 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade have had a handful of encounters with insurgents in Afghanistan, and there are no injuries to report so far, according to a WRAL News crew embedded with the brigade.

The closer the soldiers are to the Pakistan border, the higher the threat of encounters with insurgents. The soldiers have trained for months to get ready for those encounters, including sharpening their shooting skills.

“We’ve been preparing for this for awhile,” said Pfc. Lanetta Faria.

On the firing range, the troops fine tune their combat readiness, making sure their weapons and shooting skills are on target.

“I’m more focused and calm than anxious,” said Spc. Quinton McBride.

Some troops will stay at Bagram Airfield, while others stay elsewhere in Afghanistan, where their combat skills could be challenged by the enemy.

“I am focused,” said Spc. Zacary Morrow. “When it comes down to it, when we start doing our jobs, I’ll just do it.”

Among the troops are eager young soldiers on their first deployment, including Pfc. Steven Boone.

“I feel really good because, I mean, I’m going with a great platoon, great company, great everything. I mean, it’s the 82nd. (I’m) not nervous at all, really,” he said.

Pfc. Blake Hargrave says he is “more than ready to go.” Veteran soldiers, though, some on their second or third deployments, understand the danger and know the risks.

“We’re here to do our mission, do our job correctly, and we will,” said Staff Sgt. John Buffington.

WRAL News asked many of these troops about the planned drawdown, but most said they aren’t thinking that far ahead. The brigade commander, Col. T.J. Jamison, said he believes aviation brigades like the 82nd CAB will be the last troops to leave because it is such an aviation-centric conflict.