Alabama U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 117th Field Artillery, Redlegs

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 117th Field Artillery, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, Redlegs, have endured another year of constant change with unparalleled success.

LTC Mark D. Presley of Birmingham, Ala., took command of the battalion on Nov. 3, 2013 and immediately began to push the envelope and incorporate innovative training throughout the battalion. The Redlegs Battalion continued to show strength and resiliency and performed admirably during annual training-2014 at Camp Blanding, Fla., and Camp Shelby, Miss. All artillery tables were qualified to include illumination, coordinated illumination, time-on-target, battalion time-on-target, adjust fire air burst, and direct fire. The battalion successfully fired more than 1,800 rounds in a six-day span at Camps Blanding and Shelby while performing platoon operations with the M777LW howitzer. The battalion also completed the first air raid by Alabama Artillerymen since 1992.

B Battery received the ‘TOP GUN’ award from LTC Mark Presley on May 17, 2014 for outstanding performance during 2013 and 2014. The award is given to the howitzer section performing best throughout the year and incorporates physical training, individual weapons qualified, the Army School of Physical Training, and live-fire exercises.

Arkansas U.S. Army National Guard

142nd Field Artillery Brigade, Razorback

The 142nd Field Artillery Brigade located throughout northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas River Valley again demonstrated its commitment to being a ready, competent and capable force for the state, community and the U.S. Army again in 2014.

The year began with the challenges of an uncertain budget allowing many opportunities for leaders to reevaluate their approach to training while still maintaining the highest of readiness standards and making needed adjustments to previous plans.

The 142nd ‘answered the call’ to no less than four major weather related state emergencies supporting the citizens of Arkansas by providing safety patrols, emergency power generation, and warming shelters in the area.

The brigade conducted annual training from April 26 through May 10, 2014 at the Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ark., where the battalions focused on intensive full-spectrum field-training exercises culminating in multiple Paladin and Multiple Launch Rocket System live-fire events throughout the period. Focus was made on the support of the brigade by the 217th Brigade Support Battalion maintaining all classes of supply and maintenance functions while also participated in non-standard logistics training events of sling-load operations, airborne medical evacuation procedures, and establishing the brigade support area of operations across the 60,000 acres of training area utilized by the brigade.

The brigade headquarters went on to participate in the Warfighter 14-5a exercise, one of the largest warfighting exercises in the last decade, in May at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., under the command of the 42nd Infantry Division, New York U.S. Army National Guard. Approximately 200 Soldiers of the 142nd distinguished themselves by developing targeting procedures for unmanned aerial systems, implementing a proactive plan developed to de-conflict air clearance procedures allowing for a high volume of fire support execution while maintaining counter fire response in an urban environment. “This was a tremendous learning and training event for the Razorback Brigade, everyone involved contributed to our success in the warfighter while taking away much improved kinetic Field Artillery skills in the tactical operations center that we have not practiced as much in recent years of the global war on terrorism,” said COL Troy Galloway, brigade commander.

The 142nd Field Artillery Brigade conducted a change of command ceremony in October 2014 with COL Gregory Bacon taking command from COL Troy Galloway after three very successful years leading the Razorbacks.

1st Battalion 142nd Field Artillery, Fireball

A Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) from 1st Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery fires on May 2, 2014. Photo courtesy of 142nd FA BDE.

The Soldiers and officers of 1st Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery spent Training Year 2014, training hard to complete platoon certification and conducted two separate live-fire exercises totaling 66 rockets. During the live-fire exercises, 1-142nd FA conducted a community relations event and a Family day event. The battalion conducted a top gun and top crane with A Battery, 1-142nd FA winning both competitions. The remainder of the training year was spent working across the major subordinate command conducing sling load operations with the 77th Aviation, aerial recon with the 77th Aviation and pod demolition with the 871st Engineers all while improving on all assigned mission-essential task list tasks. Staff officers and noncommissioned officers completed realistic training while enhancing the abilities of mission command for the 42nd Infantry Division warfighter exercise in May at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. In Training Year 2015 the battalion will continue to build upon the high intensity training and progress that was made during training year 2014.

2nd Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery, Diamond Fire

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery participate in a river crossing exercise. The unit trained by moving personnel and equipment across the Arkansas River. Photo courtesy of 142nd FA BDE.

The Soldiers of Arkansas’ 2nd Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery started Training Year 2014 with an aggressive artillery focused training concept conducting live-fire exercises during each and every quarter of the training year. The culmination of training came during annual training in May of 2014 when the battalion was certified by 1st Army evaluators for entry into the Army contingency force. The battalion was trained to battalion level following the completion of annual training. During the course of the year, 2nd Battalion fired more than 1,300 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition to include high explosive, special munitions, and Rocket Assisted Projectiles. In addition to the standard Field Artillery training, 2nd Battalion also coordinated and participated in a tactical river crossing exercise with the 379th Engineers of the United States Army Reserve. The battalion successfully crossed the Arkansas River, completed fire missions, and returned across the river to complete the mission. The river operations were the first conducted by the battalion since the late 1980s.

The Soldiers of the battalion demonstrated mastery of skills from Army Warrior Tasks through complex battalion-level tactics techniques and procedures. Much of the staff and several other battalion Soldiers participated in the 42nd Infantry Division warfighter exercise and were commended by the division commander for their skill and professionalism. The 2nd Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery once again demonstrated proficiency in common Soldier skills and artillery proficiency and was selected to continue in the Army Contingency Force mission into Training Year 2015. The battalion has laid out an equally challenging training plan for Training Year 2015 that will stretch the Soldiers and officers even further as training continues through progressively complex operations both tactically and logistically. The battalion’s motto, ‘Try to Stop Us,’ has been tested and the Soldiers have once again proven they cannot be.

217th Brigade Support Battalion, Hammer

Soldiers from 217th Brigade Support Battalion participate in medical evacuatoin training on April 30, 2014. Photo courtesy of 142nd FA BDE.

The 217th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) began Training Year 2014 mission focused and proved their capabilities by providing excellent logistical support to the brigade throughout the year. During the Annual training at Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center the 217th provided all meals to the brigade the entire time from only their mobile kitchen facility. The 217th also participated in non-standard logistics training events of sling load operations and airborne medical evacuation procedures.

The 217th successfully established an expeditionary brigade support Area during the brigade’s annual training period, while also conducting the preponderance of annual services on their equipment resulting in an almost perfect score on their command maintenance evaluation team inspection conducted shortly after the annual training period.

B Company of the 217th BSB was also recognized externally for their efforts being chosen as the modified table of organization and equipment ‘Small Unit’ winner for the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence for the National Guard for 2014.

Georgia U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery, Hickory’s Howitzers

Soldiers of A Battery, 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery participate in Operation Hickory Lightning during a live-fire artillery raid in 2014 at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Photo by SSG Tracy Smith, Georgia U.S. Army National Guard.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery, Hickory’s Howitzers, executed a rigorous and fast paced training schedule in addition to multiple readiness events to maintain full mission capability throughout the battalion’s Army Force Generation cycle ready year. Select members of Hickory deployed with other Soldiers from the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team to support Operation Enduring Freedom as part of Task Force Phoenix and returned safely in September of 2014.

During the 2014 training year the Hickory Battalion accomplished two very significant achievements. In early 2014, the battalion validated a Howitzer Chief of Section Academy concept, developed by senior Hickory noncommissioned officers and officers, and was designed to solve the knowledge gap of sergeants first class and master sergeants raised in heavy artillery units being promoted into leadership positions of a light artillery unit. The result was an 11-day crash course in the M119A2 howitzer and its duty positions which quickly and efficiently raised the proficiency level of the section chiefs in the battalion, most of which have spent the majority of their careers on M119A6s. In May 2014, the Hickory Battalion executed the first live-fire, air assault artillery raid in the history of the Georgia U.S. Army National Guard at Fort Stewart, Ga. In conjunction with UH60 Blackhawks from the 78th Aviation Troop Command, both Hickory firing batteries air assaulted into a remote firing point forward of the forward-line-of-own-troops, fired a six-round fire-for-effect mission on a high priority target with effects within 60 meters with air extraction. The success of the artillery raid both raised the morale and confidence of the Hickory Soldiers and validated the air assault capabilities of the Hickory Battalion for the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team commander.

The Hickory Battalion has recently entered its Army Force Generation Reset year and is preparing for reorganization and the addition of a third firing battery composed of M777s.

Florida U.S. Army National Guard

3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery

Florida Governor Rick Scott (center) and his wife Ann greet a Soldier from Florida U.S. Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery , as the unit arrives home to Florida following a deployment , Jan. 5, 2014 in Plant City, Fla. More than 300 of the Soldiers returned to central Florida after the deployment to Qatar. Photo by MSG Thomas Kielbasa, Florida U.S. Army National Guard.

In January 2014, Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery redeployed to Florida following their eight-month security forces deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where they were responsible for protecting Camp As Sayliyah and critical sites within Qatar. The battalion provided security for entry control points, a vital the U.S. Central Command ammunition supply point, Port security and convoy operations, as well as maintained a quick reaction force for Camp As Sayliyah.

With the reintegration process in full swing, the battalion quickly shifted gears to full spectrum High Mobility Artillery Rocket System operations. The unit conducted a new equipment fielding and training on the Harris Radio System and a new enhanced driver's system. The increased communication capabilities provided by the Harris radios combined with the robust M142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) weapons system, which the unit fielded just prior to their deployment in 2013, greatly increased the battalion's ability to perform the Field Artillery mission of destroy, neutralize, and suppress whenever called upon.

In addition to the high operational tempo of redeployment and reintegration, Soldiers of the 3-116th Field Artillery also conducted organizational restructuring and transitioned to the modern HIMARS model. This modified table of organization and equipment (modified table of organization and equipment) change decreased the battalion from three batteries of six launcher crews to two batteries with eight launcher crews. Soldiers of the 3-116th FA embraced these operational and organizational changes with utmost professionalism – the battalion stands ready to execute its state or federal mission as directed. ‘Gator Thunder!’

Illinois U.S. Army National Guard

2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery

A M119A2 howitzer section from B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery conducting occupation training during battalion artillery certification at Marseilles Training Center, Ill., in April 2014. Photo courtesy of 2-122nd FA.

Training Year 2014 was a very significant year as the battalion entered the available year of the Army Force Generational model. Throughout Training Year 2014 , the battalion continued to focus on Soldier readiness and getting back to the basics of artillery. The battalion executed an aggressive yet challenging training plan that culminated during annual training at Fort McCoy, Wis. This event provided the battalion the opportunity to validate its mission-essential task list proficiency by conducting realistic training in a linear battlefield.

The battalion accomplished several major training objectives during Annual Training 2014, which made it a milestone event. With our continued focus on the fundamentals, we achieved great strides while transitioning our training strategy away from counterinsurgency operations. During annual training, we exercised our ability to conduct offensive and defensive fire support operations. We successfully conducted multiple day and night movements, to include resupply operations. Some of the achievements consisted of fire missions from various formations both digitally and manually, integration of the Q-36 radar, and the successful execution of final protective Fires and sweep and zone missions.

Battery defense continued to be an area of focus throughout Training Year 2014 . We challenged our battalion by exercising the fundamentals to survive in a tactical linear battlefield. The batteries displayed great improvement in their defensive posture and the incorporation of engineer assets complimented their use of terrain. By providing opposing force to test our defensive integrity, we noticed great improvement in our ability to enhance protection as training progressed.

Another goal for the training year was the persistent improvement on our Mission Command Systems. We successfully conducted two major communication and tactical operations center exercises that assisted with the integration of mission command systems into battalion operations. This allowed us to maintain effective command and control over our batteries while sustaining real world tactical responsiveness. Our staff successfully conducted military decision-making process and tactical operations center operations by utilizing current and future cells, enhancing our abilities to conduct battlefield tracking and plan operations. Because of increased staff proficiency, we were able to conduct jump tactical operations center operations while maintaining fire mission capabilities, provide a continuous digital common operating picture to the brigade, and conduct commander update briefs regarding Ventrillo.

As we enter our Reset year and begin to transition to a composite Field Artillery battalion, we will leverage our achievements and continue to focus on grooming our Soldiers and leaders as expert Artillerymen.

2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery, Ready and Willing

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery, Ready and Willing, continued to train and expand on core artillery competencies throughout the training year.

This training year the battalion conducted annual training at Fort McCoy, Wis., firing more than 1,500 rounds in the two-week period in addition to various crew served weapon ranges. In addition to typical artillery live-fire events the battalion has continued to receive and implement new equipment into the organization. In August of 2014 the battalion received the Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade-and-Below, Moving Target Simulator, and Command Post of the Future systems to increase mission command assets.

The battalion is currently focused on battery and battalion level training while in the training phase of the Army Force Generation model and continues to prepare for future operations.

Kansas U.S. Army National Guard

130th Fires Brigade

1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery

1LT Joshua Bralley, a platoon leader A Battery, 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery, conducts a convoy operation brief during Annual Training 2014 prior to the unit's movement to the first of several maneuver areas on Fort Riley, Kansas. Photo by CPT Charles Ross, A Battery, 1-161st FA.

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery, 130th Fires Brigade (FiB) focused on individual readiness, and unit reorganization of the current force structure. Newly configured gun sections, fire direction crews and support personnel honed their military occupation specialties in preparation for consolidated training exercises in a tactical environment. The 1-161 FA conducted annual training at Fort Riley, Kan., May 31 to June 14. The M109A6 Paladin, howitzer crew members of A Battery from Dodge City, Kan., and C Battery from Newton, Kan., completed 150 fire missions, safely firing 500, 155 mm high explosive projectiles. Throughout annual training in June, Battery E (target acquisition), 161st Field Artillery stationed in Great Bend, Kan., provided counter-battery target acquisition, meteorological data, and survey support for in-state elements, the 1st Battalion, 161st FA and the 2nd Battalion, 130th FA. The 1161st Forward Support Company (FSC) from Hutchinson and Pratt, Kan., provided maintenance support during annual training preparation and contributed to the success of 11 Paladins to be fully mission capable. The vitality of the members of FSC to support two firing batteries throughout annual training provided them the ability to maximize Soldier training on their weapons systems. The 1-161 FA assumed the rapid reaction force mission on Oct. 3rd, 2014, in support of domestic operations. More than 350 Soldiers attended and participated in a two-day civil disturbance training at the Great Plains Joint Training Center in Salina, Kan. The battalion received 20 hours of instruction and performed take-down procedures on subjects such as: use of minimum force; extreme force; apprehension and detention; media relations; standards of conduct; actions in the affected area and urban tactics.

Kentucky U.S. Army National Guard

138th Field Artillery Brigade, Kentucky Thunder

2014 for the 138th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) was a year of recovery and resetting from multiple deployments from the Horn of Africa, Jordan, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Simultaneously, the brigade and subordinate units implemented the 2015 Modified Table of Organization and Equipment in April 2014 resulting in the restructuring of the brigade headquarters, the 138th Signal Company, and the firing battalions. On Aug. 1, 2014 COL Brian F. Wertzler relinquished Command to LTC(P) Robert J. Larkin.

The motto for the Kentucky National Guard is ‘Unbridled Service,’ indicative of our proud association with horses in Kentucky, while the brigade motto is ‘Kentucky Thunder,’ which lends to the proud sounds coming from our weapon systems when providing Fires. The following articles highlight some of the accomplishments from units within the 138th FiB. We are proud to selflessly serve our nation and communities as U.S. Army National Guard Redlegs.

1st Battalion, 623d Field Artillery, Morgan’s Men

Early 2014 found the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery (HIMARS) supported by the 203rd Forward Support Company (FSC) conducting ‘Yellow Ribbon’ and reintegration activities after returning in late October 2013 from deployments to Jordan, Afghanistan, and Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the Jordanian Operational Deployment Program. During this non-standard mission, Morgan’s Men were tasked with training Soldiers from the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) in conducting base defense operations and convoy security, as well as familiarizing the JAF with U.S. military operations. Select teams of 1-623rd Soldiers then accompanied the Jordanian Task Forces into Afghanistan as mentors and liaisons with U.S. battle space owners. While this mission was very successful, the Redlegs were eager to return to their core competencies and M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems in 2014.

In addition to Reset and reintegration, a major task for the battalion over the past year was the reorganization of the modified table of organization and equipment, force structure from the three battery, six launcher (three by six) configuration into the two battery, eight launcher (two by eight) organization. This was a major change for the battalion and its Soldiers, but was conducted effectively and efficiently while maintaining focus on developing operational readiness, setting the unit up for success, and supporting individual Soldiers affected by the change.

With the battalion in the Reset phase of the Army Force Generation cycle, the training focus was on individual Soldier skills, structured self development and digital sustainment training in preparation for future crew certifications. The culminating training event for Training Year 2014 was a two-week annual training conducted at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky. All training goals were met or exceeded with the unit and Soldiers poised to ‘seize the opportunity’ as we move into Training Year 2015.

2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, Long Rifles

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, Long Rifles, supported by the 2138th Forward Support Company (FSC) completed the reset phase of Army Force Generation after their deployment to the Horn of Africa.

During the year the battalion conducted reintegration through the strong bonds campaign and outreach from the family readiness groups and family assistance center. These command focused programs combined with support from recruiting and retention battalion helped the 2-138th FA maintain and strengthen their Army Families.

The battalion reorganized to a three by four Firing Battery under the 2015 modified table of organization and equipment and retrained Soldiers into new military occupational specialties to meet the new requirements.

During July’s annual training the battalion focused its efforts on individual and core competency tasks to include the Artillery Skills Proficiency Test for all military occupational specialties and Army warrior task. The battalion also implemented a new Train the Trainer and Leader certification programs for small-arms ranges that produced an 87 percent first time qualification rate across the battalion. The FSC also completed hazardous materials qualifications, ammunition specific certifications, and 100 percent of the scheduled services for the battalion.

In October the 2-138th FA took to the field and started training in preparation for section certification and future live-fire exercises. The battalion is currently focused on section and platoon-level training with their new equipment and mission.

103rd Brigade Support Battalion

During the course of fiscal year 2014, the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion (BSB), 138th Field Artillery Brigade continued to train on its mission of supporting the fight while going through leadership changes and seeing 15 of its Soldiers deployed in support of the Special Operations Command in Afghanistan.

October 2013 saw the battalion change Command from LTC Jeff Casada to LTC David Reed, while Command SGM Jeffrey McCrystal assumed the Senior Enlisted role from CSM William Cox in April 2014.

In January 2014, the 103rd BSB was announced as the top BSB within the U.S. Army National Guard over a five year study.

In April 2014, the 103rd’s 15-Soldier Task Force Summit Retrograde Assistance Team made their return from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan supporting the Special Operations Command’s equipment withdrawal, bringing with it honors that included eight Bronze Stars and seven Army Commendation Medals.

August 2014 saw the culmination of the 103rd’s five-year training cycle with a training exercise at Camp Dodge, Iowa’s Joint Maneuver Training Center. While A and B Companies trained to complete their mission of supporting through logistical functions such as vehicle maintenance and supply transportation, the headquarters focused their efforts on refreshing and expanding skills related to the various battalion leadership and mission-coordinating tasks.

At home, the 103rd spent 2014 working to get back to the basics on accomplishing its mission functions after a two-year period that saw 52 of its Soldiers deployed overseas supporting various Kentucky National Guard missions. Each section was tasked with the mission of re-familiarizing its Soldiers and leadership on their section functions and how each section interacts with its counterparts. The battalion is currently in the reset phase of the Army Force Generation and continues to prepare for future operations.

Massachusetts U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery, Warlords

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery, slingload their howitzer. Photo courtesy of 1-101st FA.

After more than a year of fast-paced training, the Field Artillery with the longest lineage in the nation was rewarded with the thunderous echo of light howitzers at Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Fort Polk, La., in June. Following a highly successful exportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) rotation at Fort Drum, N.Y., in July of 2013, the Warlords’ high operation tempo in FY14 prepared for its culminating event at JRTC through multiple field training exercises, drills, battery- and platoon-level certifications on Tables VI and XII and live-fire exercises in which more than 3,400 rounds were expended.

As the only National Guard Field Artillery unit to participate in JRTC this training year, members of the battalion participated in some of the most realistic training the Army has to offer. Task Force Warlord successfully completed its mission to provide direct fire support to the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain). The Warlords adapted to the operational environment, overcame the summer’s challenging heat, massed Fires in support of combat operations and completed artillery competency evaluations during live-fire exercises on Peason Ridge. In addition to the year’s training missions, the battalion supported other state missions, to include participating in Patriot’s Day celebration in support of the Ancient and Honorably Artillery Company of Massachusetts, providing a team of Soldiers to honor the first muster of militia in 1637 in Salem, Mass., and commemorating the 4th of July by providing cannon accompaniment to the Boston Pops during the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture in Boston, Mass.

Looking ahead as part of Brigade Combat team Modernization, the battalion is excited to return to its roots in the upcoming training year by upgrading its current arsenal with M119A3 Howitzers while gaining M777 howitzers to reincorporate C Battery. The Warlords will also bolster its forward support company with additional heavy vehicles, expand the existing target acquisition platoon with a Q-37 radar section and reintegrate the fire support teams from the brigade’s maneuver elements.

From the first muster and the Pequot Wars through the ongoing Global War on Terrorism, members of the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery will continue to uphold the traditions and lineage of the South both at home and abroad.

Michigan U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 119th Field Artillery

The First Battalion of the 119th Field Artillery is Michigan’s premier Field Artillery battalion. Headquartered in Lansing, Mich., the battalion has batteries in Lansing, Port Huron, Alma, and Albion. Additionally the capabilities of the battalion are enhanced with a forward support company in Augusta, Mich. Organized as a three by four M777A2 battalion; we are the best M777A2 battalion in our Field Artillery brigade, the 197th FAB from New Hampshire.

During training year 2014 the battalion had a host of hard earned successes. The first quarter preparation, recon and rehearsals lead to an amazing and historic 2nd and 3rd quarter successes. On Feb. 28th, 2014 more than 400 Soldiers deployed to Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center in Grayling, Mich. The Soldiers drew and performed preventive maintenance checks and services on their howitzers and prepared to execute the battalion’s first ever live-fire artillery raid. The ambient temperature was 30 degrees below zero. For two solid days the Artillerymen of the Red Lions hooked up and flew with their guns to live fire in sub-arctic conditions. The howitzer equipment performed magnificently, hoses and pumps on fuel trucks froze despite additives. Chinooks would not start without assistance. Contact trucks from the maintenance teams needed contact trucks to get them rolling. In the end we fired more than 100 rounds, flew more than 35 sorties and learned the capabilities and limitations of our equipment. The true testament to our success however, was the rosy faced grins on the Artillerymen and the subsequent meteoric rise in our retention. The Red Lions finished the training year with the best retention in the state.

But that was just the beginning… That was only one drill. In July 2014 the battalion again deployed to Camp Grayling to execute exportable combat training capability (XCTC) along with the other four battalions in the 197th FAB. The exercise was a huge success. Camp Grayling’s Pickert Artillery Range is large enough for five Artillery battalions to fire and maneuver with enough space left over to create combat training capability type squad training exercise lanes. Every unit in the battalion validated on warrior tasks, as well as executing everything required to fire more than 700 artillery rounds and three more days of artillery raids. Additionally, due to our safety certification and with the consent of the post commander of Camp Grayling, we were able to fire 3H – thus validating on a host of additional tasks. We rounded out annual training with small arms ranges and our B Battery was selected as ‘honor battery’ to fire a salute to our governor at his annual pass and review.

The battalion finished out the year at Camp Grayling with more small arms ranges, crew served weapons ranges and a medical readiness event to update periodic health assessments. After nine months of hard training the battalion is the best in the State for retention, as well as having more than 90 percent medical readiness, 95 percent Duty Military Occupational Specialty Qualification and 99 percent strength. Our previous ‘in-lieu-of’ missions and full spectrum operations training have left us with additional skill sets that enhance our survivability as validated during XCTC. Additionally, a decade of deployments have taught us to be prepared for anything, to remain flexible, to be resilient and think outside the box as proven by our successful air raids. All of this combined with hard charging artillery training to standard, qualifying all platoons, and firing more than 1,400 rounds, proves that the Red Lions will always ‘Prepare The Way!’

Minnesota U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery, Thunder

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery (FA), Thunder, 115th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) took on two new challenges during FY14. The first came in January when the battalion was selected to take part in a rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., in 2015. The battalion has spent the year preparing the Soldiers and equipment necessary to take on the challenge. One major change the rotation has brought to the battalion is the re-organization to a six gun battery as opposed to four gun layout by modified table of organization and equipment. This will be the first rotation for the battalion to the National Training Center, Fort Polk, La., in over a decade.

During annual training in August, the battalion took on the second challenge by becoming the first unit to fire Rocket Assisted Projectiles (RAP) at Camp Ripley Training Center (CRTC), Minn. By working in conjunction with CRTC, the two organizations developed a solution which enabled the battalion to shoot seventeen projectiles over the course of a one-day exercise. The rounds were fired over nine miles and had excellent effects on target with all rounds landing within 50 meters of their intended target. Throughout the exercise, the battalion was also assisted by the 34th Brigade Special Troops Battalion Unmanned Aircraft System section which provided aerial support monitoring both the impact area and the ‘should hit’ location in the event the rocket failed to function.

These challenges came at just the right time for the battalion as they transition from training phase of the Army Force Generation cycle to available. Both challenges have postured the battalion to take on future operations.

Missouri U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion 129th Field Artillery, Truman’s Own

A howitzer from 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery is air lifted by a CH-53 helicopter during and air assault operation. Photo courtesy of 1-129th FA.

The 1st Battalion 129th Field Artillery, Truman’s Own, conducted multiple field exercises in order to enhance and ensure readiness. Most significantly, the battalion conducted sling load operations with their M777A2 howitzers during an April exercise at Missouri’s Macon Training Site. It had been 10 years since the last time the unit conducted sling load operations with howitzers. The sling load training created confidence and boasted morale within the battalion.

During 2014, The 1-129th FA achieved many notable accolades. The battalion graduated 16 out of 16 Soldiers who attended the Missouri Air Assault course conducted by Fort Benning Warrior Trainer Center. CPT Ryan R. Jennings (Battalion FDO, HQ, 1-129 FA) was selected for the prestigious GEN Douglas MacArthur Award and recognized by the Army Chief of Staff, GEN Raymond T. Odierno. The battalion’s Truman Chapter of the United States Field Artillery Association was also recognized for their achievements and presented the Best Chapter of Excellence Award. The battalion’s 1128th Forward Support Company (FSC) is a semifinalist for the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence.

The 1-129th FA is currently focused on unit comprehensive level readiness. The battalion is postured to ensure that all Soldiers are ready to deploy at any given time for federal and state mission. The 1-129th FA continues to train, and prepare a family and community based force of ready Citizen Soldiers to defend and serve the people of Missouri and the United States of America.

New Hampshire U.S. Army National Guard

197th Field Artillery Brigade, Granite Thunder Brigade

Soldiers from 197th Field Artillery Brigade fire their howitzer during a live-fire exercise. Photo courtesy of 197th FA BDE.

The 197th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB), New Hampshire U.S. Army National Guard, has spent the past year strengthening core competencies through large scale training operations while their High Mobility Artillery Rocket System battalion prepares for a deployment to the Army Central Command Area of Operations.

Selected as the first functional Field Artillery brigade, to participate in the Exportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) program at Camp Grayling, Mich., 197th FAB successfully completed its rotation in July 2014. The training and live-fire exercise involved 2,500 Soldiers from seven states. Units from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Alabama, New York and Michigan trained alongside Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division during the exercise. Basic Soldiering skills were integrated into the annual training with counter-IED and convoy drills, while firing lanes provided units an opportunity to put their training into practice. In just a week’s span, more than 3,000, 155 mm rounds and nearly 200 rockets were fired.

Preparations for the exercise were underway in June when the brigade kicked off a major rail loading operation in Canterbury, N.H., to move thousands of equipment pieces to the training site--arguably the largest rail move in the state’s history. From logisticians to mechanics, radar operators to fire support specialists, every Soldier gained experience in their respective duty assignments.

Although the year is coming to a close, training for the brigade is still in high gear as the unit prepares for a warfighter exercise through battle drills and staff military decision-making process exercises. Their rotation is scheduled to begin in January, 2015. By spring, 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery, will deploy to support coalition building and partnership training overseas.

With two major training events completed back-to-back, and one unit deploying, 197th FAB is trained and ready for their next mission, whether it’s aiding the community during a natural disaster or answering the call to serve the nation.

New Jersey U.S. Army National Guard

3rd Battalion, 112th Field Artillery

A howitzer from 3rd Battalion, 112th Field Artillery is air lifted by a helicopter during and air assault operation. Photo courtesy of 1-129th FA.

The New Jersey Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 112th Field Artillery, 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, completed a demanding year of training and transformation.

After completing FA safety training and exams, the ASPT, dry-fire section training, military decision-making process training and a staff exercise, the battalion headed to Fort Dix, N.J., for annual training. During annual training, the battalion’s M119A2, fire direction center and Q-36 sections all completed section certification and qualification, and all four howitzer platoons then completed platoon qualification as well. The battalion then planned and executed a short battalion-level tactical exercise. A Battery also planned and executed a two-gun raid with a U.S. Marine Corps squadron of CH-53s.

The battalion also began its transformation to a composite FA battalion modified table of organization and equipment. Fire Support Elements from 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Headquarters, 1st Battalion, 102nd Cavalry, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry, and 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry returned to 3-112 FA, and are now Detachment 1 of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. The battalion reflagged the fire support cell from G Company to F Company, and uncased C Battery’s colors.

In November, the battalion held a family day live-fire event at Fort Dix. Families heard short classes on howitzer occupation, fire direction center, ammunition, fire support equipment, and the battalion tactical operations center before getting an up-close live-fire demonstration that included direct fire.

New York U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery, Washington Greys

The 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery, Washington Greys, conducted rigorous training in preparation for our upcoming exportable combat training center rotation in 2015 and subsequent Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La., rotation in 2016. This year’s training highlights included the implementation of a successful, brigade-wide Fire Support Certification Program and a focus on ‘repainting red’ all 13-series Soldiers across the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The battalion continued to progress toward the new composite Field Artillery battalion structure while rebuilding proficiency in the completion of critical Field Artillery tasks. Our firing batteries, based near West Point in New Windsor and in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, conducted disciplined training on the Field Artillery Tables with our partnered training support battalion from the 72nd Field Artillery Brigade, culminating in a successful section certification at Fort Drum during annual training. Headquarters Battery based in the Jamaica section of Queens, improved proficiency in establishing the mission command center and continued to pursue certifications for its meteorological, radar, fire direction, and survey sections. Our dedicated forward support company, G/427th Brigade Support Battalion, also based in Jamaica, completed demanding sustainment training lanes while simultaneously keeping the howitzers and everything else fixed and fueled.

The battalion stands Ready and Faithful in New York City and the Hudson Valley.

Oklahoma U.S. Army National Guard

45th Field Artillery Brigade, Red Thunder

Training Year 2014 was extremely busy and challenging for of the 45th Field Artillery Brigade Headquarters, located in Mustang, Okla. An aggressive training plan focused on conducting unified land operations training to further develop the combat ability of the brigade.

In the months leading up to annual training, the headquarters conducted a field training exercise at Fort Sill, Okla., in order to test equipment readiness and configure the Army Battle Command Systems (ABCS).

During annual training, the headquarters Soldiers departed home-station for Camp Gruber, Okla., where they established the tactical operations center. After all command post communication and ABCS systems were operational, the Headquarters jumped to Fort Chaffee, Ark. Using a tactical command post and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical system, the headquarters maintained communication capability and a common operational picture with the main command post and forward units. Subordinate units successfully completed fire mission processing, B Battery, 171 (TAB) acquired targets for the brigade and the 271st Brigade Support Battalion provided logistical support and participated in sling load operations. Annual training culminated with a simulated Mass Casualty Exercise that included moulage makeup that made the training more realistic.

Overall, Training Year 2014 proved to be a successful year for the brigade. Through realistic and challenging training, the brigade increased individual Soldier proficiency and allowed each section to exercise and refine their operations.

1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery

A High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) from 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery fires during a live-fire exercise. Photo courtesy of 1-158th FA.

The 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery of the 45th Field Artillery Brigade has had a successful 2014 year. From both A and B Batteries deployments in Afghanistan to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery’s live fire in September, the 1-158th FA High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) has successfully shown the true power of the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

While deployed to Afghanistan, A Battery was split amongst three separate provinces. A conducted a variety of missions including; force protection, forward operating base updates for the Regional Command-South Commander, support for division staff, and personal security detachment missions. A targeted insurgent acquisition, tracked ingoing and outgoing multiple fire mission rounds, and tracked information on enemy fire. The remainder of A Battery conducted 24-hour HIMARS support. A Battery’s operations in Afghanistan included the first live-fire missions by an Oklahoma HIMARS combat unit since Desert Storm. In June, A Battery was replaced by their sister B Battery, allowing A to return home in July.

During February inactive-duty training, B Battery conducted a live-fire mission exercise. This live-fire exercise was conducted in order to train for deployment and to replace A Battery. The live fire included 36 rockets from six separate launchers. In July, B Battery trained in convoy operations, cultural familiarization, individual weapon qualification, and completed the combat lifesaver course. B Battery then moved to their mobilization station for training and preparation required for deployment. Upon arrival in Afghanistan, B Battery took over A Battery duties for the duration of the campaign. Their mission included force protection, HIMARS support, and providing information on enemy incoming rounds.

During September, while B Battery was in the process of relieving A Battery in Afghanistan, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery’s along with rear detachments of A and B conducted a live-fire training exercise. The live-fire exercise consisted of 36 rockets fired by four separate launchers. During this live-fire exercise, a launcher crew made Oklahoma history by including the first two females with the 13M to participate in a HIMARS live-fire exercise.

The 1-158th FA unit’s successful 2014 year proves that these Soldiers continue to live up to their motto, ‘Unusual Efforts Expended.’

Pennsylvania U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery

A howitzer from 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery is air lifted during a air assault training exercise. Photo courtesy of 1-108th FA.

It was another exciting year for the 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery. The 1-108th FA, 56th Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 28th Infantry Division of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard is based out of Southeast Pennsylvania with units in Carlisle, Hanover, South Mountain, and Philadelphia. It also had, until 1 September 2014, 856th Engineer Company as administrative control (ADCON), which is located in Punxsutawney, Pa., creating Task Force Joshua. Currently, the battalion is pure with only two small attachments from the 328th Brigade Support Battalion which consists of the field feeding team and the combat repair team.

The battalion travelled to Camp Atterbury, Ind., for annual training in June for a 20-day collective training event; a 550-mile, two-day movement into the Midwest. The last time the 1-108th FA was at Camp Atterbury was in September 1950, when the 28th Infantry Division was called to active federal service (due to the hostilities in Korea) and started training at Camp Atterbury (Source: "Roll On 28th," 28th Infantry Division Yearbook, 1952). While at Camp Atterbury, the battalion focused on its core artillery mission of providing fire support for 56th BCT’s maneuver elements. The battalion completed full certification for all sections and achieved battery-level live-fire qualification (Artillery Table 15) firing 314 fire missions and more than 1,700 rounds without incident. The battalion staff successfully ‘jumped’ its command post without loss of control or degrading the battalion’s firing capabilities. The battalion also conducted a 155 mm direct fire range for all howitzer sections and an air raid in conjunction with the U.S. Navy’s Helmineron Fifteen (HM 15) Squadron based out of Norfolk, Va. This joint operation was a first for both the 1-108th FA and the HM 15 Squadron. Lastly, the battalion focused on a best section competition for all howitzer sections and fire direction centers. This annual event always builds espirit de corps amongst the Soldiers.

September 2014 closed out the battalion’s ‘available year’ within the Army Force Generation cycle. Even though the battalion did not deploy, the battalion nevertheless had an aggressive training plan of live-fire exercises, small arms marksmanship training, and Soldier readiness processing weekends. Annual training the conclusion of the training year, the battalion had a medical readiness percentage of 90.8 percent. Along with these training/personnel requirements, the battalion successfully executed two state-wide Active Duty emergency missions in response to winter weather. The battalion is the task force headquarters for an area consisting of five southern Pennsylvania counties covering approximately 3,310 square miles and a population of more than 943,000 residents. The battalion provided mission command for its Soldiers and provided liaison to each emergency operations center within these counties. The battalion also conducted M101A1 ceremonial howitzer salutes for Army War College graduations and the Carlisle Barracks’ Jim Thorpe Sports Days. In addition, the battalion continued its annual support of the Regional Special Olympics at Messiah College and Annual Fallen Soldier 5K which raised funds for the Gold Star families of two 56th BCT Soldiers who were killed in Iraq when the brigade was deployed in 2009.

The battalion also fully implemented Directive 2012-6 (Change to Army Policy for the Assignment of Female Soldiers) in which nine brigade combat teams are now to open areas of concentration (AOC) and military occupation specialties (MOS) to female company grade (O-1 to O-3) and NCOs in grades E-5 to E-7 in the battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company. The 56th BCT was selected as one of the nine brigades to allow assignment of females to its organization. The battalion currently has one female 13 A officer, one female 25A (Signal) officer, and one female 42A40 (Human Resources Sergeant). Lastly, the battalion conducted a non-commissioned officer induction ceremony where 29 NCOs were pinned the rank of sergeant.

The battalion moved into its Reset year of the Army Force Generation cycle, but will continue its long tradition of aggressive training and support to hometown organizations. The battalion will push forward in Soldier readiness, strength management, and continue to achieve high levels of camaraderie. The 1-108th FA continues to maintain one of the highest strengths in the brigade due to the hard work of every officer, non-commissioned officer and Soldier. Every member of the battalion lives up to the 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery’s motto of ‘Non Sibi, Sed Patriae – Not Self, But Country!’

Tennessee U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery, Valor

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, began 2014 deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Valor Battalion re-deployed in June 2014. Photo courtesy of 142nd FA BDE.

A Battery, 1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, deployed to Afghanistan from August 2013 to June 2014 in order to provide non-standard precision artillery fire support for a Task Force against the war on terrorism in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The nine High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher crews, six ammunition crews, three platoon operation center crews, the battery operation center, and headquarters platoon operations were First Army Artillery Table VI Certified and completed their relief-in-place (RIP) with B Battery, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery on Oct. 4, 2013. The battery dispersion across Regional Command East allowed fire support not only to the task force in which they were assigned, but to two thirds of Afghanistan including the Regional Command-North, East, Central, and South along with support to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The liaison section and the 3rd Platoon Operation Center personnel mastered, and were in charge of, the newly learned fire mission processing techniques through the use of a multitude of communications networks. The battery had a very successful mission and are great credit to the Field Artillery community.

Texas U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery participate in a training exercise. Photo courtesy of 1-133rd FA.

In 2014, the First Texas Artillery 1st Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery returned to basics of artillery and excelled during certification of core tasks. Since 2001, members of the organization had deployed as whole and as augmentees performing numerous non-standard missions. The FY14 training year initially focused re-bluing the unit to perform the traditional rolls of fire support. Members of the Texas First Artillery proved they were capable of reaching proficiency. Therefore the training plan was modified to sustain a environment of challenging training, as well as expanding the units capability. Training added was direct fire of howitzer, which had never been done in the unit before, as well as exercising all three of the emergency Fire direction procedures which included Black Magic. All cannon crews successfully trained and fired direct. Incorporating the fire support teams across the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1-133rd FA completed annual training by firing Black Magic with observers giving fire commands to the guns during the ‘Top Gun’ competition. The result was the first Black Magic fire mission required only one subsequent correction to achieve steal on target. The second Black Magic fire mission achieved effects on target in the first round.

Washington U.S. Army National Guard

2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery

CPT Lance Cromwell, the BN's Operations Officer, and CPT George Gonzalez, the BN S-2 work on a FRAGORD while the TOC re-locates. The tactical scenario required the Battalion Staff to conduct Command Post Operations and Mission Command both day and night as well as on the move. Photo by LTC Nate Peters, 2-146th FA.

In July this year, the 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery of the Washington U.S. Army National Guard conducted their two-week annual training. Instead of doing the typical annual training of years past, which consisted mostly of crew served weapons qualification, individual weapons ranges and artillery gunnery tables, the battalion decided to add a little flavor to their annual training.

This year they combined operations from the battalion level staff all the way down to the individual Soldier by utilizing a tactical scenario. The tactical scenario was derived from a staff exercise conducted earlier in the year by the brigade Staff, then adapted for use by the battalion during annual training. The battalion used the Operations Order and products produced during the staff exercise, and augmented the products to fit the ranges and training areas of Yakima Training Center (YTC).

In February, LTC Nate Peters, the 2-146th FA Commander, told his battalion that they needed to continue to do their annual gunnery and qualifications, but also needed to add more training emphasis to movement and communications: other key components to fire support.

The idea to use the scenario was the product of CPT Lance Cromwell, the battalion's Operations officer. At first he was struggling to come up with a relevant tactical scenario that would develop the staff, as well as provide challenging and realistic training for the Soldiers. His goal was to develop a plan that would carry through the whole annual training, and progressively build so that each element within the battalion would be pushed to their limit.

"While reviewing the CPX OPORDER, I realized the answer was right in front of me," Cromwell recalled. "I realized that all we had to do was tweak a few of our products to make it fit YTC."

Typically, the staff level doesn't get this kind of real-time tactical training unless they are going through a Command Post Exercise, or a combat training center (CTC) rotation. The use of the tactical scenario facilitated a tactical mindset amongst Soldiers at all levels; from the staff all the way down to the individual Soldier. Soldiers, at every level were forced to be involved and engaged during the training.

"Instead of just briefing the weather for the next 72 hours, the S-2 briefed the enemy situation based on injects and FRAGORDs we developed during the training," Peters said. "Battery commanders issued their orders and conducted troop leading procedures. The platoon leaders led their platoons and made sure they were in the right place at the right time and that they quickly established firing capability."

This year's annual training proved to be a success mostly from the feedback the leadership received from the junior enlisted. So much so that they plan on implementing a new tactical scenario into next year's annual training.

"The Soldiers loved it," Cromwell said. "It challenged junior leaders and gave them some latitude to experiment and develop TTPs, which ultimately drove the refinement of SOPs at all levels."

Wisconsin U.S. Army National Guard

1st Battalion, 426th Regional Training Institute

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 426th Regional Training Institute pose for a unit photo. Photo courtesy of 1-426th RTI.

The 1st Battalion, 426th Regional Training Institute (RTI) located at Fort McCoy, Wis., had another outstanding year training Soldiers from across the nation in 13 series Noncommissioned officer Education System (NCOES) courses.

The 1st Battalion continues to have an excellent safety record as they conducted seven live-fire exercises (LFX) and safely fired 1248 rounds from M777A2 and M119A2 howitzers. The majority of those LFXs were conducted using more than one weapon system on the same firing point as they safely managed the simultaneous fire missions.

The 1st Battalion continued to innovate in a fiscally constrained environment by offering and conducting two mobile training team (MTT) missions, one to Hawaii and one to Indiana and two on-site training requests. The two on-site courses were a course for Soldiers from Alabama and Kentucky and another for members of the 1-120th Field Artillery headquartered in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. The courses increased total students trained by 85 and brought the total number of Soldiers trained in all Field Artillery courses to 430.

Three 426th RTI instructors travelled to Hawaii in June to conduct its first Outside Continental U.S. (OCONUS) training mission for the 1st Battalion 487th Field Artillery. This training encompassed two phases of the 13B Advanced Leader Course (ALC). They successfully graduated 25 students from Phase I and 23 students from Phase II. Not only did this training result in significant financial savings for the state of Hawaii, it also improved their Unit Status Report rating for NCOES completion to an overall ‘green’ rating.

During their August LFX the 1st Battalion hosted elected officials and VIPs from across Wisconsin to demonstrate the quality of instructors and training provided to their students.

All members of the 1st Battalion look forward to continuing their record of providing high quality and safe training and seek out ways to continue to innovate and improve.

‘Excellentia Normalis!’

Wyoming U.S. Army National Guard

115th Field Artillery Brigade, Cowboy Thunder

The 115th Field Artillery Brigade maintained a high operational tempo throughout Training Year 2014 and surpassed many milestones despite constraints during a time of limited resources.

In June of 2014, the 115 FAB Headquarters attended a warfighter exercise at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in order to provide Fires support to the 34th Infantry Division Red Bulls. The brigade was instrumental in supporting the mission of 34th ID throughout the exercise and validated as a staff on warfighting functions.

Army Battle Command System sustainment was a focal point of the 115th Field Artillery Brigade’s training throughout 2014, with specific emphasis on high-frequency radio communications. This has allowed the brigade to expand the fires footprint well beyond line of sight and exercise mission command systems in unprecedented areas and over previously impossible distances.

The 115th FAB conducted a National Guard Relief Fund handoff to provide the state of Wyoming significant flexibility during our available year.

The 115th FAB organic battalions successfully validated on warfighting functions and mission essential tasks with 1st Army evaluators in Camp Guernsey, Wyoming during annual training.

2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery, Powder River Cowboys

2014 proved to be a ground breaking year for the Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery, Powder River Cowboys. The battalion incrementally developed high frequency (HF), long distance communications which culminating in a 72-hour annual training, field training exercise that ranged across a 242 mile front throughout Wyoming. The two firing batteries, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, and the 920th Fire Support Center began the exercise at their individual armories and training areas. Coordination was made with several Federal Bureau of Land Management offices for permits to operate on public lands during the exercise. The battalion staff developed a four phase tactical operation order based the current decisive action scenario and adapted it to Wyoming terrain. The firing batteries averaged a 100 mile distance on either flank of the tactical operations center, ALOC and FSC. All units converged on Camp Guernsey, Wyo., for the third phase. The final phase was incorporated into a separate rocket LFX conducted from the camp’s North Training Area.

HF communications capability allowed for mission command and digital fire mission processing across operational distances an order of magnitude greater than traditional SINCGARS ranges. Missions conducted during the field training exercise included raid and suppression of enemy Air Defense missions, as well as more than 300 standard fire missions. The FSC provided embedded maintenance support teams (MST) and highly mobile logistic transport teams to supply the firing batteries.

Several statistics illustrate annual training achievement. More than 500 fire missions were processed. The firing batteries fired 64 rockets during the LFX. The battalion traveled a cumulative 96,000 accident free miles and consumed approximately 18,000 gallons of fuel during operations. The FSC conducted 52 services and various equipment repairs to include removing and replacing a HMMWV engine in the field.

A 1st Army OC/T team conducted an external evaluation of the battalion throughout annual training. The battalion was recommended by the team to be included in the Army Contingency Force during its Army Force Generation Available Year in 2015.

960th Brigade Support Battalion

Soldiers from the 960th Brigade Support Battalion work on a water purification system. Photo courtesy of 960th BSB.

The 960th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) accomplished many first time training milestones during 2014, culminating with a validation from First Army. The six day validation during annual training focused commanders on the support mission to the 115th Field Artillery Brigade in through logistical support to the Headquarters and Headquarters Batter /115th FAB and 2-300th FA. This annual training was the first ever combined training exercise for 960th BSB. The result of the validation was an overall T Rating in all evaluated mission-essential task list tasks. The 960th was able to balance both personnel readiness and collective training in order to meet all Army Force Generation aim points for Train/Ready Year 3.

The BSB set up a fully functioning Brigade Support Area (BSA) for the first time that allowed the battalion staff to conduct realistic collective training in a field environment. The S6 section provided the BSB tactical operations center with a colorless score for the first time, providing both classified and unclassified connections for the staff. The support operations section set up and linked logistics systems with A and B Companies using very small aperture terminals (VSAT).

A Company’s missions during annual training included logistic packages, which provided munitions at the ammo supply point (ASP) in Camp Guernsey, Wyoming, and HIMARS Rocket PODs to the 920th FSC (a first for both A Company and the 920th FSC); provided more than 6,000 gallons of purified water, 7,500 gallons of fuel, enough Class I for more than 200 Soldiers over six days and support of the BSA to sustain Soldiers in each company's respective areas of operation. The 92W section of A Company used the Tactical Water Purification System (TWPS) to purify almost 18,000 gallons of water from the North Platte River in Camp Guernsey, Wyoming, during seven days of support to the 115th Field Artillery Brigade. This was the first time A Company purified water with their equipment. (A 960 BSB Purification.jpg)The 92A section completed sling-load operations with C/1-159, the first time in A Company history to coordinate and successfully achieve this type of training.

B Company focused on maintenance and maintenance control operations during annual training; mechanics conducted 20-level maintenance on more than thirty vehicles, including 15 HMMWVs, three HEMTT fuel trucks, five LMTVs and five MTVs. The recovery section used their H8 training in a live recovery mission. The section recovered an overturned HMMWV on Camp Guernsey’s North Training Area.

In addition to training mission-essential task list tasks, the 960th BSB also responded to flood mitigation missions within Wyoming. A Company sent six LHS's and twelve Soldiers to Lander and Riverton during the State Flood Mission. Soldiers from B Company provided flood relief and maintenance support to Washakie and Carbon Counties.