Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, examine the sights of a D-30 122 mm cannon in Hohenfels, Germany. The unit sent Soldiers to the Joint Multinational Training Center to learn how to use the D-30 to aid them in training Afghan National Security Forces during their upcoming deployment in winter 2013.

It's not often that Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) get an opportunity to train with foreign weapon systems. It's even rarer when that system is a D-30 122mm howitzer. Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment recently had that opportunity while conducting their capstone Security Force Assistance Team training in Hohenfels, Germany.

With the 2nd Brigade Combat Team expected to deploy the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade in the winter of 2013, one component of their mission will be to advise and assist Afghan National Security Forces on delivering accurate and timely indirect fires. Security Force Assistance Teams from 2-15 FA have been training to fulfill that mission.

Their training regimen has been lengthy and multifaceted, first completing the Advisor Academy at Fort Polk, La., and then building on their skills with a rotation to the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., and finally, D-30 howitzer training at the Joint Multinational Training Center in Hohenfels.

The rotation to JMRC provided valuable hands-on training with actual working D-30s. While the ballistic theory involved in firing the Soviet-era cannons is almost identical to American indirect fire systems, the D-30 has a laundry list of idiosyncrasies that had to be mastered over a two-week period.

"The D-30 howitzer is the AK-47 of the artillery world," said Spc. Donny Bretzinger, a fire direction trainer. "It's simple to use, easy to maintain, and it's used all around the world."

The rotation at JMRC began with in-depth hands-on training on the howitzer itself. Every Soldier, regardless of rank or position, learned how to conduct the crew drill needed to load and fire the howitzer. From there, they learned how to process firing data in order to translate an observer's call for fire into usable data needed to accurately fire the weapon.

To finish the training, they validated their adviser skills by taking a group of Afghan role-players and teaching them how to fire the D-30. To replicate the challenges of working with novice Afghan artillerymen, no artillerymen were selected to act as Afghan role-players.

"It was a great eye-opener for what to expect downrange," said Sgt. Joshua Hale, a howitzer train- er, "being able to train a nonartillery team was a great opportunity for us as trainers."

Carlson serves with 2-15 FA.

Page last updated Thu December 6th, 2012 at 00:00