TOPYONG-RI, South Korea - Artillery Soldiers got the opportunity to cross-train on other jobs inside their M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers, during recent “jump crew” training, and share experiences with South Korean partners.
Soldiers from Battery B, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment got the opportunity to serve in additional roles during a live fire exercise at Nightmare Range, near Topyong-ri, South Korea, from July 19-21.
The purpose of the exercise was to certify back-up, “jump” crews for the battery’s guns and fire direction centers. Having multiple people certified in different positions is not only good for contingency manning options in a combat situation, but it also allows crew members to get experience beyone what they would normally receive in their assigned jobs.
“It’s been a really eye-opening experience,” said Spc. Andrekkius Belyue, Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System operator for Battery Bravo, 1st Bn., 82nd FA.
The cross-training will benefit Soldiers later in their careers.
“Normally, an fire direction chief is a staff sergeant’s position, but due to my experience and knowledge, I was selected to certify as the back-up FDC Chief. This experience will serve me well down the road when I take over my own section.”
The firing point hadn’t been used in over a year, when the Republic of Korea Army V Corps hosted a joint ROK-US live fire exercise. From the start, 1-82 FA worked closely with staff from the ROK Army and members of the Pocheon Police Department to ensure every measure was taken to ensure the safety of the event, and to minimize disruption to the community.
More than 300 police officers aided in Bravo Battery’s movement to the firing point, setting up road blocks and providing vehicle escorts when needed. On the first day of the live fire, 1-82 FA invited community leaders up to the firing point and outfitted them with hearing protection, so they could observe the fires.
Also present at the firing point were officers and non-commissioned officers from the ROK Army V Corps Artillery. These officers and NCOs served in an oversight capacity, double checking firing data and crew drills.
On the final day of the live fire, ROK Army 8th Division Artillery Soldiers were invited to the firing point to observe the fires and interact with U.S. Soldiers. The ROK 8th Division, one of the furthest forward units in the ROK Army, is posted nearby the firing point. shared his observations about the 1-82 FA troopers.
“They are very proud to be artillerymen,” said Col. Sung Kyun Kang, commander of the ROK Army 8th Division Artillery. They are ready to fire when they need to, in any condition, and understand that they have one of the most important missions should war begin.” Kang was also invited into one of the guns to “pull lanyard” and fire a round.
Following the live fire, the commanders of 1-82 FA and the 210th Field Artillery Brigade met with Kang to discuss the importance of combined training.
“We thoroughly enjoy everything we do with our ROK counterparts,” said Col. Christopher Taylor, commander of the 210th FA Bde. “The way we look at it is that if we are going to go to war with them, then we need to train with them, too.”
Lt. Col. Douglas Hayes, commander, 1-82 FA, has made partnered training with ROK Army units a priority. It is an ongoing effort, and this live fire continues 1-82’s trend of partnering with the ROK Army and utilizing ROK training facilities, he said.
Two months ago, 1-82 partnered with the ROK 26th Mechanized Infantry Division Artillery in one of the largest artillery live fires in recent memory, featuring artillery batteries from four separate ROK Army Field Artillery battalions.
“This week’s exercise is yet another great example of ROK-US cooperation and partnership.” said Hayes. “To execute a live fire on a ROK training site, and to have key leaders from the ROK Army V Corps and 8th Division observing our tactics, techniques, and procedures to better understand how we fight, shows a level of commitment seldom achieved.”