Oct. 6, 2011

Artillery battalion conducts joint live fire at annual training

By Cotton Puryear   
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Hampton-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team focused on live fire training to certify gun crews and also conducted joint live fire operations with infantry and Marine mortars during their annual training at Fort Pickett from Sept. 10 to 24.

 

Soldiers from the Sandston-based Battery A, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team fire their howitzers Sept. 16 during annual training at Fort Pickett. The Soldiers of the 116th BCT focused on both their federal missions and their support to civil authorities missions during the two-week annual training period. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos on Flickr.

“We haven’t conducted a live fire since May, so it was important for us to work on the skills we need for live fire missions,” said Lt. Col. Roger Hall, commander of 1st Battalion. “We only get to the field so many times a year, and with the more complicated digital systems, we have to work to sustain the knowledge and performance level required.”

The battalion fired more than 2,100 rounds in 134 missions and finished the annual training with 10 certified gun crews, five from each firing battery. The battalion has two firing batteries with eight guns each, but because of required scheduled maintenance, they were able to fire 10 weapons systems. The battalion was able to fire several different types of fire missions as well as train on tactical movement techniques during both day and night operations.

Hall also said that many young noncommissioned offers were given the opportunity to perform in positions of higher responsibility during live fire operations and performed well in those positions.

 

One of the unique opportunities of the annual training period was the chance for joint training with artillery from 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, and mortars from 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos on Flickr.

The annual training period also provided an opportunity for the battalion to conduct joint training both with the mortar section from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment as well as with Marines that were training on Fort Pickett.

"Our fire direction centers did a superb job," said Col. John Epperly, commander of the 116th Brigade Combat Team (Rear Detachment). "We ran some very complex fire missions where we converged fires from different locations into the impact area, and that requires significant calculations."

With the battalion firing illumination rounds, the Marine mortars fired high explosive rounds for another location and Marine and National Guard forward observers directed the fires yet another location, massing all the fires on a single target area.

“We rarely get to conduct combined fire missions with mortars and field artillery,” Hall said. “It is also very unique to be able to conduct joint training with one of our sister services. It was really impressive.”

Click HERE to return to the top of the page ~ Click HERE to return to the news directory