COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (5/19/13) – The Colorado Army National Guard’s entire 169th Fires Brigade met at the U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, Colo., starting May 17 for a three-day drill.
The individual units within the brigade usually drill separately, training on individual tasks in order to become proficient, but this drill allowed the brigade’s Soldiers and leaders to engage in every aspect of what the brigade does, from start to finish.
“Every time we get a chance to set up in this way all together and spread out in various training facilities, we get a chance to refine our setup and improve upon it,” said Maj. Scott Hartman, 169th Fires Brigade operations officer.
The firing batteries of 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery underwent rigorous training and evaluations to ensure that they can safely send artillery downrange and on target. This training includes a thorough vetting process in which each artilleryman must prove that he can inspect, load, ready, and fire his Multiple Launch Rocket System within set parameters, before he is even allowed to qualify at the live-fire range.
Once the Soldiers have proven their expertise, it is game on. Targets are selected and the rockets fly out one after another, destroying their intended targets with precision.
“We shot and qualified all of our MLRSs,” said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Robert Davis, adding that it was a mark of success. “Our readiness is predicated upon our ability to put rockets downrange accurately and safely.”
Support and maintenance staff were also trained and evaluated on the capabilities they’re required to deliver in order for a group the size of a brigade to successfully accomplish its mission.
The 147th Brigade Support Battalion – comprised of Company A, a supply unit; Company B, a maintenance unit; the 3650th Heavy Maintenance Company; the 540th Signal Company; and the 188th Forward Support Company – provided these capabilities.
Company B and the 3650th kept all vehicles and weapons systems running properly, while Company A ensured adequate amounts of food, water, fuel, ammunition and any other needed supplies were available. The 188th then delivered these supplies directly to the firing batteries, while 540th ensured that everyone could talk to each other.
While the Brigade carried out a large training task, it didn’t necessarily do so without a hitch from start to finish, but that is exactly the point.
“If everything went right every time, we would not learn,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Dean Parsons, the 169th Fires Brigade command sergeant major, adding that it was how the unit adjusted to its hiccups that spoke to its preparedness.
“There may have been problems in the beginning, but they immediately compensated, regrouped and executed. The 169th is equipped to deploy with organic assets, and its performance this weekend proved it is fully prepared to do so,” he said.