1-111th Soldiers conduct live fire, section-level training during AT

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard's Hampton-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team conduct live fire training with their M119A2 howitzers June 14 at Fort A. P. Hill during the unit's two-week annual training period. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard's Hampton-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct live fire training with their M119A2 howitzers June 14 at Fort A. P. Hill during the unit's two-week annual training period. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT A.P. HILL, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Hampton-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team spent their annual training preparing the battalion for readiness in the event of deployment focusing on section-level tasks. Throughout its two-week training June 9-23 at Fort A. P. Hill, the battalion trained on individual and crew-served weapons, convoy and movement operations and maintenance of equipment. They also focused on Combat Life Saver certification.

“Annual training went well,” said Lt. Col. John T. Winkler, the battalion commander, from Fairfax. “Our first priority was safety. We were working in dangerous conditions and we had no incidents.”

During the two-week training, the 1-111th spent nine days in the field participating in a live-fire exercise. While there, the unit conducted 40 individual unit movements to establish Command and Control Nodes, Combat Trains Combat Post, battery firing positions, radar sites, and observation posts.

“They were working late every night. They’re a little dirty and a little hot, but I think they’re happy,” said Winkler, who expressed pride and gratitude for his troops.

The battalion incorporated realistic wartime mission occupations, firing and rapid displacement to new locations. Alpha Battery achieved platoon-level proficiency and conducted independent split platoon operations for the first time in a decade.

“They’ve never done that before,” Winkler said.

Meanwhile the entire battalion successfully executed 165 fire missions, raining down more than 1,100 rounds of 105mm munitions.

The Q36 Radar was significantly involved in firing operations. Its primary tasks included tracking rounds and training the section in both Point of Origin and Point of Impact functions.  The radar was critical to successful night firing operations by tracking the Point of Impact in direct coordination with the Forward Observers.

Winkler also mentioned the outstanding performance of their forward support company. It provided ammunition and fueling operations to support the constantly moving units.

Golf Company has done a great job providing support and excellent chow,” Winkler said.

They prepared and served 4,420 meals from the combat kitchen. The battalion qualified an additional 40 Soldiers on individual weapons, 69 on crew-served weapons, and trained an additional 47 Soldiers in Combat Life Saver.

Several leaders stressed the importance of the combined effort of the fires battalion.

“It takes a team, and I’ve got a good team,” said Staff Sgt. Lavonte Davis from Chesterfield, a team chief from Alpha Battery.

Davis likes to have fun with his crew, but he understands that safety and precision are essential. “There’s some competition between guns to be the fastest, but you want to be the accurate guy. No matter how fast you are, if you’re not accurate, you’re not doing the infantry any good.”

The 1-111th’s success during annual training gave positive reinforcement to the troops, motivating them for the coming months.

“We’re growing leaps and bounds,” said Winkler, “and next year we’ll grow even more.”

The battalion finished its training with an award ceremony recognizing the individual efforts of several Soldiers who helped make this annual training a success.

View more photos on Flickr:

Virginia artillery Soldiers live fire at Fort A.P. Hill:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157630068464781/

1-111th FA honors Soldiers during unit MWR event:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157630223855376/