1-111th Field Artillery live-fire exercise provides opprtunity for section-level certifications

Soldiers of the Sandston-based Battery A, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct a live-fire exercise at Fort Pickett, Va., March 2, 2013. The live-fire exercise was part of the unit’s section certifications and training for an external evaluation in 2014. (Photo by Sgt. JoAnna Greene, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

Soldiers of the Sandston-based Battery A, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct a live-fire exercise at Fort Pickett, Va., March 2, 2013. The live-fire exercise was part of the unit’s section certifications and training for an external evaluation in 2014. (Photo by Sgt. JoAnna Greene, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers of the Hampton-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team along with Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based Fire Support Element, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducted a live-fire exercise March 1-3, 2013, at Fort Pickett. The exercise served as an opportunity for section-level certifications and collective training to better prepare the units for their federal missions.

During the battalion’s quarterly live-fire exercise, sections of Sandston-based Battery A and Norfolk-based Battery B certified on their M119A2 howitzers. The certification involved safely and efficiently firing rounds in both high and low angles. The section certifications are part of the unit’s annual preparedness cycle, which began in January with written artillery tests.

“Today we’re here to make sure our gunners, chiefs and sections are proficient on their 13 Bravo [cannon crewmember] tasks and to ensure everything is done according to our tactical standard operating procedures,” said 1st Sgt. Timothy Perry, Battery A.

Capt. Jason Remington, commander of Battery A, said that live-fire exercises like these are great morale boosters because Soldiers get the opportunity to do exactly what motivated them to join in the first place.

Soldiers of the Sandston-based Battery A, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct a live-fire exercise at Fort Pickett, Va., March 2, 2013. The live-fire exercise was part of the unit’s section certifications and training for an external evaluation in 2014. (Photo by Sgt. JoAnna Greene, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

During the battalion’s quarterly live-fire exercise, sections of Sandston-based Battery A and Norfolk-based Battery B certified on their M119A2 howitzers. The certification involved safely and efficiently firing rounds in both high and low angles. The section certifications are part of the unit’s annual preparedness cycle, which began in January with written artillery tests. (Photo by Sgt. JoAnna Greene, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

Approximately 10 kilometers from the batteries’ firing points, forward observers from Fire Support Element observed the 105mm rounds’ point of impact and communicated results back to the artillery’s Fire Direction Center.

“This kind of training is absolutely practical and useful. We never work with the battalions on a daily basis so the key is to get integrated into their systems and learn how they operate,” said Capt. Matthew Payne, fire support officer of 1-116th Infantry.

Soldiers of the battalion headquarters at the FDC used feedback from the forward observers, along with data from weather satellites to calculate fire data for the howitzers. The fire data includes direction, distance, and elevation for the howitzers to shoot, along with a charge and shell fuze combination.

Field operations for the exercise moved smoothly with help from Soldiers of the Norfolk-based Company G, 429th Brigade Support Battalion running the Combat Trans Command Post. The CTCP served as the distribution center for ammunition, food, medical and maintenance services.

Soldiers of Company G provided hot meals for troops in the field using their combat kitchen. The mobile facility can be towed into the field, operational within an hour, and feed up to 500 Soldiers per meal.

“This exercise was the most challenging field problem we’ve had since I’ve been in command due to multiple missions being conducted simultaneously in inclement weather at Fort Pickett,” said Lt. Col. John Winkler, commander of the 1-111th. “In the end, all sections were certified, all ammunition utilized, multiple mission sets were achieved, and we met the mark for our Military Decision Making Process and Command Post of the Future training.”

Additional reporting by Sgt. David A. Begley, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

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