2015 Fires Conference

Leveling the Bubbles

By BG William A. Turner

In May, Field Artillery leaders from around the world will gather at Fort Sill, Okla. for the 2015 Fires Conference. In past years, the conference has been a great event, providing a professional venue where Field Artillerymen and women have exchanged ideas and discussed the way ahead.

This year’s conference promises to be more dynamic, with planned events and discussions focused on training and educating our future Fires Leaders and Soldiers. If you cannot be here in person, please make plans to join in the discussion virtually through Defense Connect Online, for more information about this year’s conference and how to attend virtually go online @ http://sill-www.army.mil/fires-conference/.

The Field Artillery portion of the Fires Conference is scheduled for May 6, starting at 8:40 a.m. The DCO link is @ https://connect.dco.dod.mil/fires-conference-2015-fa-breakout/.

In 2014, we carried out implementing our new force design with standing up the Division Artillery (DIVARTY) and providing a new emphasis on the Field Artillery Brigade. In the past nine months, seven of our 10 DIVARTYs have stood up, with total implementation scheduled to be completed across the Force by first quarter FY’16. 1st Armored Division, 10th Mountain Division, and 4th Infantry Division will complete the activations over the next several months. Beyond improving support to the Maneuver commander, the DIVARTY force structure has better enabled us to take personal responsibility for training all our Field Artillerymen and women in both Field Artillery and Fire Support critical tasks.

While our DIVARTYs are standing up, simultaneously our FAB leaders have been organizing, training and equipping their units. The FA Brigade provides integrated FA capability to the Corps, Joint Task Force and the Joint Force Land Component Commander and provided reinforcing capabilities to Divisions employing Joint and Army Fires.

Training and leader development, especially in how these topics relate to Operational Fires, will be the main emphasis during this year’s Field Artillery conference.

To quote TRADOC Pam 525-3-4, the United States Army Functional Concept for Fires, we have a responsibility to establish and maintain a fire support system that can, “enable the defeat of a wide range of threats, provide timely and responsive fires in environmental and operational conditions, provide a range of precision to conventional scalable capabilities to engage ground targets, prevent fratricide and minimize collateral damage.” Ultimately, it must be a fire support system that provides access to and integrates Joint, Army, and multinational Fires capabilities at the lowest appropriate levels.

We are aggressively addressing this requirement for Operational Fires and have proposed that Operational Fires should be conducted as a part of the Commander’s operational design. This will allow the commander to achieve his desired effects on the enemy in a manner that does not require detailed integration with the scheme of subordinate Maneuver elements. Operational Fires, as opposed to Close Supporting Fires, are usually conducted at the operational level of war, but may be conducted at any level of war.

Additionally, another topic of discussion will be lessons learned in relationship to how we are conducting Unit Certifications in order to better support the Maneuver Commander in executing Combined Arms Maneuver Wide Area Security (CAMWAS) missions. With the revamping of the DIVARTY, and placing a re-emphasis on our FABs, we have experienced some growing pains jumpstarting our certification programs, but we have also achieved much success.

We will also share what we are doing here at Fort Sill to aide in this process of conducting training and certifications and look forward to receiving feedback on how best to support our Fires formations. Our DIVARTYs have done an outstanding job organizing, equipping, and training their units, and I am confident the commanders and CSMs of these formations will have a lot to add to this year’s discussion.

The past six months, we have been working to re-vamp the education that we give our Fire Supporters here at Fort Sill, Okla. In doing so we have re-defined what a 13F (Fire Support Specialist) is, and what that military occupational specialty (MOS) does. We have placed an increased emphasis on precision and the Joint fight. Likewise we have leveraged Interactive Multimedia Instruction (IMI) to improve our Gunnery instruction in order to give our students the best foundation possible in Gunnery skills.

My intent for all commanders and leaders is to have a professional dialogue on the status of our FA force, challenges faced and methods used to address those challenges and to share best practices across all of our formations.

The 2015 Fires Conference is a great opportunity for us to gather together as professionals and discuss the way head. I hope to see you there in May.

King of Battle! Fires Strong!