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NEWS | May 12, 2014

Artillerymen Leverage Home Training to Master JRTC

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Wendy Wyman Commander, U.S Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs

Paratroopers of Spartan Steel completed a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center here April 26.

Artillerymen of 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, trained at home station to prepare for the training deployment.

"I think the key was the preparation before we came here," said Army Maj. Jeffrey Munn, the executive officer for 2-377th PFAR. "We certified sections and really prepared to do those [advanced missions] so when we got here we weren't worried about just doing the basic tasks."

The Spartan Steel battalion spent 11 days in the field conducting live-fire drills with intense focus on getting certified and performing basic-level field artillery tasks in accordance with their occupational standards.

"That's what helped us do well; the basic core competencies training back at home station," Munn said.

The training paid off, the major said. Even before Spartan Steel had executed an eighth of its JRTC rotation, it had either met or exceeded the six-minute standard for steel on target during counter-battery fire missions, and continued to do so for the rest of the rotation.

Though the battalion as a whole performed well, the overall performance of B Battery, 2-377th PFAR, was highlighted as above standard when it came to executing the basics.
"We got after [the] troop leading procedures," Munn said. "Especially Bravo Battery, they were all over troop leading procedures."

An adage often heard in combat units of the U.S. Army is "train as you fight." For Spc. Mark Hinton, a cannon crewmember in B/2-377th PFAR, training as you fight is exactly what he learned. The specialist credited the intense training in Alaska for their success at JRTC.

"It was exactly how we trained," Hinton said. "... I think it prepared us pretty well for emplacing the gun, running crew drills and firing. Knowing that if I ever deploy with this unit, it makes me feel pretty good."

While at JRTC, Spartan Steel paratroopers learned new lessons, including how to integrate an additional battery with an entirely different weapons system.

"We're scheduled to [transition] into a 'composite fire battalion' in October," Munn said. "This is key training for us to understand that system."

The system in question is a mixture of two M119 105-mm howitzer batteries (six guns in each battery) and an M777 155-mm howitzer battery, which make up a composite fire battalion. As these two artillery systems are integrated, the battalion's target acquisition systems will also be updated with the addition of the Q-53 Counterfire Target Acquisition Radar that will help make it easier to acquire and track enemy indirect fire weapons such as mortars and rockets.

"I can honestly say [JRTC] was hard," Hinton said. "It was uncomfortable, but I think it was in the best interest for me and for my unit."

Munn echoed Hinton's sentiments.

"No matter how well you do, you're going to learn something because they're going to keep stressing you until you find a breaking point or fault point in your system," the major said.

JRTC is designed to help a unit train and prepare for whatever type of mission it is getting ready to execute. For the Spartan Brigade, that mission is rapid insertion into any environment at any time as it prepares to take on the role of the Army's rapid-response force in the Asia-Pacific theater.

Activated in 2005, the Spartan Brigade continues to serve as the Army's only airborne brigade combat team in the Asia-Pacific region


This article was originally published at: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=80935

- PACOM: (posted May 12 2014) -

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