Sgt. Richard Wrigley
2HBCT Public Affairs
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery “Battlekings,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, returned home March 7 after being deployed for more than six months in Afghanistan.
The soldiers, glad to be home, had only a few short briefings and a short ceremony before they were reunited with their loved ones on Cottrell Field.
The ceremony was short and to the point, with the key-note speaker, Brig. Gen. John Hort, deputy commander, commander home detachment, 3rd Infantry Division, welcoming them home in good fashion.
“We are so proud of what you did down range … you all are heroes and warriors. Welcome home,” said Hort.
The soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in order to help train Afghan Security Forces in the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command-East.
The returning soldiers represent approximately half of the total deployed Battlekings, and are home earlier then expected due to mission accomplishment.
The Battlekings who are still deployed are expected to stay until later this year.
Capt. Gina Goris
2HBCT Public Affairs
TARIN KOT, Afghanistan – The U.S. field artillery known as the “King of Battle” delivered an intensive joint live fire exercise in order to support operations in the Deh Rawud valley of Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, May 6, 2013.
The exercise was planned under the command of Bravo Battery Commander Capt. John Erwin and successfully executed by the Charlie Company motor men, based out of Assistance Platform Mirwais, and the artillerymen at Forward Operating Base Hadrian. Both teams are assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, and deployed to support Combined Team Uruzgan missions.
Capt. John Erwin and his Fire Direction Center (FDC) at FOB Hadrian had the responsibility to ensure the joint fire mission would be successful.
“In order to prepare for the joint shoot, my battery conducts dry-fire training missions on our howitzers on a weekly basis,” Erwin said. “This allows the gun crews to remain proficient, accurate and be able to shoot at a moment's notice in support of any mission.”
The other key part of the operation was setting the safety conditions for the shoot. This was done by the Fire Direction Center Team.
“All of the mortar team’s meteorological, computational and terrain data had to be verified since the mortar team was shooting and operating in a foreign location than where they are used to,” said FDC team member Spc. Eric Fotopoulous.
Once the firing data is verified, the next step of the operation was identifying targets. Then all eyes were on the cannon crew members who had the important role of firing the mortars the day of the exercise.
Spc. Aaron Guymond, a crew member, said he learned a lot about the new weapon system.
“I took orders from the FDC in charge, who told us the shell and fuse combination, the size and type of the charge being fired and which direction to aim the howitzer,” Guymond said. “Then we did our pre-fire checks, geared up, and waited for the missions to begin.”
Erwin said he was pleased with the results of the event.
“The event was a success. This was the first time the artillery and mortar sections were able to reunite since they deployed together in November of 2012. And I know for a lot of the soldiers it was their first time to shoot off mortar rounds; making the preparation and time firing worth the effort,” Erwin said.
Guymond was excited after the four-hour event.
“It was my first time to see how the King of Battle operates mortars, and it was awesome.”
2HBCT Public Affairs
TARIN KOT, Afghanistan - The 1st Section, Bravo Battery 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery from Fort Stewart, Ga., have been conducting intensive training and fire missions to support operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.
The gunners, based out at Forward Operating Base Hadrian in Deh Rawud district, are two months into their deployment. They are tasked with providing offensive support to Combined Team Uruzgan missions using M777 A2 Howitzers.
Section Chief, Sgt. Christopher Johnson said the group has quickly finetuned their combat role.
“We are doing a pretty good job out here so far. We have been doing a lot of training; we have enhanced our skills and learned a lot since we’ve been here.”
“We’ve been going through the gunners test, and rotating each man through every position on the gun, whether it’s the section chief, gunner or assistant gunner,” Johnson said.
“We make sure we are ready to perform any job that comes our way and to make sure we can do it to the best of our ability, supporting troops out there that need our help,” Pfc. Jarrod Leach said.
“We are trying to support the rest of the troops out here in Uruzgan and keep everybody safe. It’s nice to be out here, especially when there are not too many people back in the United States that have a chance to come out here and do everything they can for our country,” added Leach.
The M777 A2 is a towed 155mm artillery piece that fires High Explosive, Illumination and GPS guided Excalibur rounds. The weapon system was deployed by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to Afghanistan in December 2007 and the Excalibur projectile was first deployed to Afghanistan in March 2008.
The 1st Section are on constant standby to provide support at any time during the day or night to counter direct hostilities or illuminate an area for friendly forces.
“Illum rounds light up the air so troops on the ground can see what’s going on. If they are in contact they actually see where the enemy is at, it helps them out tremendously, so it’s very important that we can get those rounds up as fast as possible,” Johnson said.
The gunners of 1-9 Field Artillery will continue providing their specialist capability until FOB Hadrian is drawn down in mid 2013.