U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS – Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (TF 51/5) Cpl. Christopher Gotch is an Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System operator, responsible for overseeing a network of computers that process and exchange information from the forward observer to the fire support element for all fire support assets (field artillery, mortars, naval gunfire, attack helicopters and close air support).
“Artillery plays a big role in winning battles,” said Gotch. “I deal with any fires-related issues involving our supported units and advise on the capabilities and use of artillery for various scenarios.”
In February 2018, Gotch had the opportunity to participate in a fires seminar with Jordanian Armed Forces in Amman, Jordan.
“I was part of a team that met with Jordanian officers to discuss the U.S. Marine Corps’ method of providing fire support,” said Gotch. “I helped facilitate discussions about our tactics and learned about our partner’s methods of conducting fire support.”
According to Gotch, TF 51/5 and partner nations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility are committed to working together to share expertise in respective fields and build upon our shared capabilities in order to increase regional stability and improve interoperability.
“Familiarizing ourselves with how our allies fight is extremely important,” said Gotch. “If we make a mistake as an infantry man, we are likely to only harm ourselves whereas if we make a mistake as a forward observer and provide inaccurate coordinates or aren’t in close communications with our allies, we could potentially wipe out an entire platoon of friendlies,” said Gotch.
Though this job is stressful at times, Gotch explains what he likes best about being a fires non-commissioned officer.
“The people I work with is what I like best about this position,” said Gotch. “Any given day provides me with an opportunity to learn something new. I’ve had the chance to travel in this position, be stationed aboard French Ship Tonnerre and participate in Eager Lion – a two-week multinational military exercise in Jordan.
A native of Dover, Delaware, this four-year Marine Corps veteran plans to pursue a homeland security degree before transferring to his next duty station this summer. In his free time, he enjoys weight lifting, reading and staying in touch with his family.