Head of Artillery

Unit: 104th Guards Air Assault Regiment, 76th Guards Air Assault Division, Western Military District

Cargo ID: #29

English Name: Alexander Nikolaevich Okruzhnov

Russian Name: Окружнов Александр Николаевич

Education: Kolomna Higher Artillery Command School (graduated 2001)

Previous Deployment: Chechnya

For the past two training periods, the howitzer artillery battery, commanded by Captain Alexander Okruzhnov, has become the best artillery unit of the 7th Airborne Division based on the results of combat training and military discipline. Therefore, despite not the longest tenure in office - and Okruzhnov has not commanded a battery for two years yet - it was he who was instructed to represent the division at the artillery competitions of the Airborne Forces. And the young officer did not disappoint, eventually taking second place.
Arriving in 2001 to serve in the 7th division, a graduate of the Kolomna Higher Artillery School, Lieutenant Alexander Okruzhnov, literally ended up in an empty barracks. The howitzer artillery battery, of which he was appointed platoon commander, as part of the battalion tactical grouping of the division, performed combat missions in Chechnya. According to the unwritten landing laws, the young lieutenant was not sent to war. Serve, they said, while here, learn everything, and then we'll see. Still fighting...
Six months later, when most of the unit's personnel returned from Chechnya, Okruzhnov was appointed senior battery officer. However, the joy of a quick promotion was crossed out by an unkind remark from the battery commander, Captain Vladimir Malyshev. “This is for you, lieutenant, not for merit, but in advance,” the battalion commander, who had returned from Chechnya, then lowered him from heaven to earth.
Alexander worked with subordinates to the seventh sweat. Even when servicing equipment, he found time to train gunners and crew commanders to prepare data for firing. He taught, tirelessly explaining to his subordinates that the success of artillery firing depends not only on the skill of each, but also on the coherence of common actions. After all, artillery is a collective weapon. The results were not long in coming - Okruzhnov's subordinates fulfilled all the standards only "excellent", field training was also at the level, and interchangeability in the calculations, on the achievement of which Okruzhnov did not stop working for a day, could only be envied. Well, the officer himself, of course, did not stop learning from older comrades who had combat experience. So, in work and study, and a year and a half flew by before his first war.
July 2003 Okruzhnov met at the position of the battery under the settlement of Regeta. First impressions - everything is just like at the Raevskoye training ground near Novorossiysk. The same heat, the same mountains, the same tent city. In the very first days alone, the battery fired more shells than in a year at the training ground. During the day, they carried out tasks of fire support for columns, at night they conducted harassing fire on mountainous forests, in which militants could allegedly be located. But the main thing is that they were ready to work around the clock on targets that were identified by groups of reconnaissance and special forces working in the mountains.
There were also special tasks that stood out from the general series of combat work. As, for example, on the day when, already taking data for shooting, Alexander immediately realized that the target was not ordinary. For more than twenty minutes, then, a continuous artillery attack was carried out at the indicated coordinates. They worked clearly. But the service of artillerymen is such that, firing from closed firing positions, they, of course, do not see the results of their work. The fact that they worked at the highest level, having covered the gang discovered in the mountains by our reconnaissance group, became clear when, on the radio, the scouts sincerely thanked the “artel” for their work.
In other words, the war was on. Only the senior officer of the battery, Senior Lieutenant Okruzhnov, did not rest on his laurels. Combat work not only did not erase his favorite armament training from his life, but even gave it even greater intensity. Okruzhnov tried to devote any free minute to studies. The officer's enthusiasm was also passed on to the soldiers, each of whom, he felt, was already experiencing real combat excitement: today they doubled one or another standard, which means that tomorrow we will try to drop another couple of seconds. Sooner or later - not only he himself believed, but also inspired the Okruzhny fighters - the hour will come when the success of some fateful battle will be decided by precisely these skills achieved by thousands of trainings. And such an hour soon struck.
When the helicopters that flew over their camp disappeared behind the forested mountains, shots were heard, after which Okruzhnov saw through binoculars a barely visible plume of smoke. In minutes, his worst fears were confirmed - the "spirits" knocked out the "turntable", but the pilots, flying a few more kilometers ahead, managed to land the Mi-8. The special forces on board took up all-round defense.
Realizing that the approaching twilight would certainly postpone the rescue operation until the morning, the militants, wasting no time, hurried to the place where the helicopter crashed. Most likely, the special forces had no chance to avoid meeting with the "darlings" who knew their mountains well, as well as to defeat the enemy, which was clearly superior in number. Only artillery could save ours in such a situation, Okruzhnov understood well, whose battery was instructed to organize a fire fringe of the group. First, the howitzers cut off the "darlings" with well-aimed fire, and then they covered the special forces with a wall of fire until they went to a safe place. During this time, the gunners had to change the data for firing dozens of times. How useful in these dramatic hours, the training achieved by months of training. In a situation where the cost of even the slightest delay, not to mention mistakes, could be the lives of our fighters, gunners transferred fire from target to target three times faster than the time allotted by the corresponding standard. And they saved the pilots and special forces with their professionalism on that fateful night.
In a word, when, upon his return from Chechnya, Senior Lieutenant Alexander Okruzhnov, holder of the medal "For Courage", was appointed commander of a howitzer battery, no one could say that the officer had received the appointment in advance.
A year later, Captain Alexander Okruzhnov's battery became the best in the division. And at the competition for the title of the best battery commander in the Airborne Forces, Okruzhnov, held at the beginning of April at the Raevskoye training ground, became the second, only a little - seven credit points - losing to the leader. The third gunner, for comparison, lagged behind the first-placed captain Sergey Lazarev from the 98th airborne division by as much as one hundred credit points.
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