HIMARS Marine battalion trains at Sill
June 14, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- The only Marine Corps Reserve High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, Battalion was at Fort Sill June 1-14 to conduct live-fire operations as part of its two-week annual training.
About 500 Reserve Marines and sailors from three firing batteries of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, practiced shooting field artillery surface-to-surface rockets as individual batteries, and as part of a battalion firing exercise.
It was the first time since 2005, that the entire battalion did live-fire annual training together, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Finnegan, Battalion FA chief.
"Right now we're trying to get some SOPs (standard operating procedures) established and get everybody on the same page of music," Finnegan said.
Marines of K Battery, which is based at Huntsville, Ala., deployed last year to Afghanistan, but annual training is crucial to maintain their highly technical skills, said Maj. Wade Johns, K Battery commanding officer.
"As Marines who drill two-and-a-half days a month this training is our best chance to get together and maintain skills and improve on them," Johns said. "It's good to get out here and spread our wings."
Johns said that the HIMARS is relatively new to the Marine Corps, only having the mission within 10 years. F Battery, from Oklahoma City, and D Battery, from El Paso, Texas, also participated in the annual training. The only other Marine HIMARS battalion is an active duty unit.
HIMARS is a wheeled, agile rocket and guided missile system more mobile than the tracked Multiple Launch Rocket System, which is important because rockets leave a very noticeable smoke signature, said Staff Sgt. Joey Curtis, 1st Platoon commander. What HIMARS gains in mobility it gives up in fire power, only capable of firing six rockets versus the MLRS' 12-rocket capacity.
K Battery Marines drove their HIMARS and support vehicles to Birmingham, Ala., where they were loaded onto railroad cars and transported to Fort Sill, Curtis said. The Marines then flew here.
"We brought five (HIMARS) launchers and about another 50 vehicles," he said.
On June 7, 117 Marines and sailors from K Battery, camped at Training Area 18 here, simulating operating far ahead of a forward operating base. The Marines not only had to perform their military occupational specialties, but also provide security for the camp perimeter, serve as mess cooks and assist with communications, logistics and administration.
"Everything that we do here, will be a valuable asset when deployed down range," said Staff Sgt. Corey Daugherty, Battery gunnery sergeant.
Living in the field allowed the Reserve Marines to focus on their mission, Curtis said.
"It allows them to get some good camaraderie and get away from the day-to-day stresses of their civilian worlds," he said.
That evening the Marines fired the training round, which basically is a concrete pole with a rocket motor attached to it, Curtis said. The practice rounds have a flat trajectory and do not use GPS guidance unlike live rounds.
About one week into the training, Johns said the post was very supportive of his operations.
"Range Control has bent over backwards to help us shoot and shoot safely," Johns said. "And, since we are not from here they have been very informative."