• Airborne artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team practice loading a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The artillerymen are assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Airborne artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team practice loading a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The artillerymen are assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 319th...

  • A UH60 Black Hawk helicopter operated by soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, lift off with artillerymen assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The helicopters will transport the artillerymen and their howitzers to a second location, from which they will fire the artillery.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    A UH60 Black Hawk helicopter operated by soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, lift off with artillerymen assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort...

  • Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare to hook up an M119A2 105mm howitzer to a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The artillerymen are assigned to 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare to hook up an M119A2 105mm howitzer to a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The artillerymen are assigned to 3rd...

  • Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare to hook up an M119A2 105mm howitzer to a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The artillerymen are assigned to 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare to hook up an M119A2 105mm howitzer to a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The artillerymen are assigned to 3rd...

  • Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare to hook up an M119A2 105mm howitzer to a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The artillerymen are assigned to 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare to hook up an M119A2 105mm howitzer to a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The artillerymen are assigned to 3rd...

  • Artillerymen move out of the way after hooking up their howitzer to a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, Fort Bragg, N.C.  The helicopter is also carrying artillerymen who will fire the cannon once it is transported to another position.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Artillerymen move out of the way after hooking up their howitzer to a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, Fort Bragg, N.C. The helicopter is also carrying artillerymen who will fire the cannon once it is transported to...

  • A UH60 Black Hawk helicopter operated by soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, transport artillerymen and their howitzers to a second location from which the artillerymen will fire the cannon Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The artillerymen are paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    A UH60 Black Hawk helicopter operated by soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, transport artillerymen and their howitzers to a second location from which the artillerymen will fire the cannon Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C...

  • UH60 Black Hawk helicopters operated by soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, drop off artillerymen and their howitzers at a firing line during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The artillerymen are paratroopers with 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, part of the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    UH60 Black Hawk helicopters operated by soldiers with Company A, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, drop off artillerymen and their howitzers at a firing line during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The artillerymen are...

  • Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team exit a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  Their howitzer in the foreground was slung from the belly of the aircraft during flight.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team exit a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. Their howitzer in the foreground was slung from the belly of the aircraft during...

  • Airborne artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare a M119A2 105mm howitzer to be fired during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The howitzers were transported to a firing location during a "gun raid" by helicopter.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Airborne artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare a M119A2 105mm howitzer to be fired during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The howitzers were transported to a firing location during a "gun...

  • Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare artillery shells for firing Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The artillerymen transported their howitzers by helicopter, fired live rounds, and within a few hours, returned their guns to the original location by helicopter.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare artillery shells for firing Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The artillerymen transported their howitzers by helicopter, fired live rounds, and within a few hours...

  • Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare howitzers for firing during field training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The soldier in the distance is setting up an M2 aiming circle used for aiming and safety.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepare howitzers for firing during field training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The soldier in the distance is setting up an M2 aiming circle used for aiming and safety...

  • Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team fire an M119A2 105mm howitzer during a "gun raid" Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The artillerymen emplaced their cannon via helicopter and quickly set it up to fire on "enemy" positions.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team fire an M119A2 105mm howitzer during a "gun raid" Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The artillerymen emplaced their cannon via helicopter and quickly set it up to fire on "enemy"...

  • Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team pack up their M119A2 howitzer for transport by helicopter Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The paratroopers are learning air assault skills.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

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    Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team pack up their M119A2 howitzer for transport by helicopter Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The paratroopers are learning air assault skills. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J...

  • Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team load into a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The artillerymen are assigned to 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

    130208-A-3108M-033

    Artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team load into a UH60 Black Hawk helicopter during air assault training Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. The artillerymen are assigned to 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery...

  • A UH60 Black Hawk helicopter operated by aviators with Company A, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, slingloads a M119A2 105mm howitzer during air assault training with airborne artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team Feb. 8, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C.  The lightweight howitzer can also be parachuted from an aircraft.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

    130208-A-3108M-034

    A UH60 Black Hawk helicopter operated by aviators with Company A, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, slingloads a M119A2 105mm howitzer during air assault training with airborne artillerymen with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat...

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Commanders have a choice as to how they deal with the impact of impending budget cuts on troop training, according to one airborne artillery commander.

Recently concluding "gun raid" training here during which field artillery pieces were lifted by helicopter to a firing location, fired by artillerymen, and returned by helicopter in a matter of hours, the 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment's commander, Lt. Col. Phillip Jenison, said that such hand's-on training may be less common in the months and years ahead.

Airborne artillerymen train to parachute into a location with their howitzers or to air assault them in by helicopter, and have them firing within 25 minutes, said Jenison. It's a timeline that takes repeated practice to achieve, and that can be expensive.

"Is the glass half full or half empty?" Jenison quipped with regard to the imminent Department of Defense belt tightening. "I prefer to see it as half full."

"I know how to make a budget," said the former enlisted artilleryman who also commanded one of the battalion's artillery batteries during the early stages of the war in Afghanistan. "I 'grew up' with a budget as a lieutenant and a captain. We have to know how to account for our monies."

While nothing quite takes the place of emplacing artillery by aircraft and firing live rounds at real targets, much of what makes for a successful artillery team is building muscle memory, and much of that can be done in an open field without live rounds, he said.

"It will require creative thinking on how we train," Jenison said, but with the profession of artillery and the Army in general both experiencing great change, that's a foregone conclusion.

For instance, over the past several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, 3-319th AFAR has been used for convoy and base security, counterinsurgency-type infantry operations and, yes, providing artillery support for the infantry. At the same time, artillery's place within the Army's structure has morphed from being a corps and division asset to being one of six roughly equal constituents serving a brigade combat team, he said.

Jenison's battalion belongs to the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Artillery supports infantry, and as the Army regains its decisive action focus and proceeds with plans to augment each BCT with an additional infantry battalion, Jenison expects his artillery battalion to add an additional battery to support it. However, until that happens, it remains to be determined how that firepower will be spread across the brigade's three infantry battalions, he said.

Jenison's battalion has also been selected to field the Army's new all-digital, M119A3 105mm lightweight howitzer, due off the assembly line in March 2013. Onboard self-locating gyros and other high-tech tools will cut the time his gunners can fire a cannon that has been moved from 6 minutes to under a minute.

"At the end of the day, we get paid to deliver rounds downrange to kill the enemy," he said. "We can't forget that, because as an artillery battalion, we've been doing a lot of different things to stay relevant to the fight."

Jenison, who hails from Tennessee, said that one possible benefit of the budget constraints is that the pace of training may slow down enough for troops to regain some necessary aspects of paratrooper life that have fallen by the wayside after a decade of war.

Those include renewed focus on developing junior paratroopers through regularly scheduled counseling and "sergeant's time" training, and better preventive maintenance of weapons, vehicles and other equipment, he said.

Reinvesting time into those pursuits can help bring back a level of predictability absent from the ranks for some time, he said, and that will foster a more professional artilleryman with a higher esprit de corps.

"My priorities are fighting, fitness, being fundamentally focused, flexibility, family and fun," he said.
Jenison took command of 3-319th AFAR in late 2012 following the battalion's return from Ghazni province, Afghanistan, where it provided artillery support for 1/82.

Page last updated Fri March 8th, 2013 at 16:38