GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany, Feb. 5, 2018 —
A team of soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, trained with members of the 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, during a live-fire training exercise here, Feb. 2, 2018.
The goal for the units, both part of the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, was to gain confidence in their ability to work together.
“The objective for my battalion in this ‘walk and shoot’ is to provide fires for 2-70th maneuvers — to give those company commanders and young forward support officers in that battalion the confidence to rely on field artillery to provide fires for them,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Deatherage, 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment.
Training like this gives junior leaders a chance to develop and enhance offensive, defensive and stability tasks.
Army 1st Lt. Dylan Hatch, a platoon leader assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, said he believes the greatest opportunity derived from the training was the ability to work with 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment’s forward observers.
Requesting Artillery Support
When forward observers relay information on enemy activity in a ‘call for fire’ to artillery troops such as Hatch, the artillery crews respond with speed and precision.
The call for fire activates a rapid response from the unit’s M109A6 Paladin howitzers, firing 155 mm rounds accurately within minutes. This complex task requires the utmost in proficiency and teamwork by every soldier.
Each artillery crew member has a separate and specific task when a call for fire comes in, such as moving the vehicle into a firing position, computing the target’s data in the gun settings, loading the ammunition and firing on the target.
Army Pfc. Brian Mulcay, a cannon crewmember assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, said, “My job as the ‘No. 1 man’ [a crew slogan] is to make sure all the ammunition in the vehicle is sorted properly, fuse the ammunition for firing, load the 95-pound rounds and fire the 155 mm high-explosive ammunition.”
The unit’s network of operators and systems can provide joint fires, fire support and counterfire, while shooting, moving and communicating within an assigned area.
While all this may sound easy and simple on paper, the on-the-ground conditions in which the soldiers and their equipment must work can be grueling. Understanding the limits of their equipment and how to care for it is of great importance to the soldiers, a fact that isn’t lost on their leaders.
“These soldiers are doing an outstanding job at keeping our operational readiness rate at a peak throughout this operation,” Deatherage said. “Our equipment has been exercised to the max and I am very impressed with our ability to keep our 18 guns in the fight.”