Three nations participate in artillery live-fire training
June 25, 2013
BAUMHOLDER, Germany - U.S., German and Italian forces participated in an artillery live-fire training exercise here, June 20, as part of the Artillery Systems Cooperation Activities program.
ASCA is a program that brings together partner nations and their artillery systems while conducting battlefield operations.
One key feature of ASCA is the upgraded interface that is used between participating nations. The interface can translate a call for fire from one nation into the language of the nation that will provide the artillery support on the battlefield. The program includes the U.S., Germany, Italy, France and Turkey.
This was the first live-fire training exercise since 1997 for the nations participating in ASCA. The training had been on hold because of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The training lasted three days, culminating in the live-fire on the final day. Fire controllers and observers from all three nations called fire missions through the ASCA interface, which were then transmitted to and executed by the German army's Training Regiment 345.
U.S. Army Europe's 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment served as the U.S. component of the ASCA training program. The unit's primary mission is to coordinate with air-component commands to facilitate and synchronize air and ground targeting operations. ASCA has been incorporated as an additional area of responsibility for the unit.
Lt. Col. Nikolaus Guran, the 19th BCD's plans officer, says he believes that there are many benefits of training together with coalition partners, including building friendships and creating working relationships.
"This is an extraordinary opportunity to train with the Germans and Italians," Guran said. "It is key because, let's face it, we are not fighting alone anymore. We are fighting as a coalition with our NATO partners."
The ASCA program offers a tactical advantage between nations on the battlefield. If one nation calls for fire but its internal assets are depleted or cannot range the target, another nation using the ASCA interface would be able to receive and fire that mission.
Sgt. 1st Class Robert Kaufmann, the 19th BCD's primary ASCA interface operator during the training, believes that training with the other nations is a valuable learning experience and that learning about our allies' different artillery systems can play an important tactical role.
German army Maj. Timo Schmieden says he believes the training will dramatically reduce the time it takes for an observer to call for fire and receive rounds on the target.
"I think this it is very important to come and work together and to get over the fear of working with other nations," Schmieden said.
Another iteration of training is already scheduled for September and will include French and possibly Turkish forces.