KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Aug. 28, 2014) -- As Forward Operating Bases downsize in Afghanistan and coalition forces reduce in number throughout Regional Command-South, units are falling back to Kandahar Airfield, bringing with them vehicles, personnel and equipment. Amongst the equipment brought back is one crucial piece used to assist with base defense and other missions.

M777A2 howitzers owned by 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were brought to Kandahar Airfield and registered, or zeroed the howitzers through shooting live rounds into an uninhabited area known as the Red Desert in Kandahar Province, Aug. 22.

The shoot also provided training for fire support personnel with 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and showed a presence of force to the area.

"[Regional Command]-South is downsizing. The howitzers that the artillery owns were just moved to Kandahar Airfield from Passab, and we wanted to do a shoot. At first they (the 2-77 Field Artillery) were just going to register the guns by shooting them, but now we're getting some training value out of it," said 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy, a native of Sebastopol, California, who serves as a fire support officer with the 1-12 Infantry. "It's also a show of force, so to speak, for this whole area south of [Kandahar Airfield]."

Ping Medvigy explained that the live fire required continuous communication between the 2-77 Field Artillery, and the fire support team, or FIST, from Delta Company, 1-12 Infantry, on the ground to call for the artillery rounds and ensure that no local civilians or property crossed into the impact zone. While the FIST ensured the area was clear at the observation post and impact zone, the airspace that would be used for the artillery round's trajectory was cleared up to 30,000 feet by the Kandahar Airfield Joint Defense Operations Center, ensuring the rounds be shot down range safely.

That evening ten high explosive rounds were shot down range onto a clear hillside next to the Red Desert, which were later followed by eight illumination rounds after the sun went down.

The event was significant to Kandahar Airfield because all of the artillery guns until then had been forward deployed at numerous other bases, extending their reach throughout RC-South.

"There hasn't been indirect firing capabilities on Kandahar Airfield for some years now, and so providing this ability to our force gives commanders a little bit more latitude with how they engage and disrupt the enemy," said Capt. Kevin Conners, a native of Apple Valley, California, and commanding officer of Alpha Battery, 2-77 Field Artillery.

"As assets have drawn down, we're bringing another one up, which basically proves to the enemy that we can shoot from [Kandahar Airfield]," Conners said.

Page last updated Fri August 29th, 2014 at 07:23