CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - As the hot sun beat down, the field artillery battalion sent more than 140 artillery rounds downrange during a three-day certification at the Camp Buehring firing range in June.

The 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, certified its crews on their howitzers before heading north into Iraq in mid-June.

"I'm always excited and eager to participate in these exercises," said Sgt. Martin Arellano, a Paladin crew chief in A Battery and a Detroit native. "The thing that gets me pumped up the most in the world is shooting artillery rounds. When my crew fires, we don't just do it, we do it well. We are the best."

The desert shook as the 155 mm high explosive artillery rounds fired by the "Black Dragons" crushed the Camp Buehring firing range. The exercise involved every echelon of the unit's command and control, from the howitzer section chiefs to the battalion's fire direction center.

While each artillery section is composed of up to nine Soldiers, it is controlled by one of only four platoon fire direction centers native to the 5th Bn., 82nd FA Regt.

"The shooting was as much fun as we could have in 120 degree heat," said Pfc. Sean Whalen, an artilleryman assigned to Battery A and a native of Lafayette, La.

"It was a good opportunity to prove we have what it takes to perform our tasks quickly and efficiently when a mission comes down to us for execution."