UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (Oct. 17, 2013) -- Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, held a 10-day exercise, Sept. 22 through Oct. 1, with the host nation's 97th Heavy Artillery Regiment, in the United Arab Emirates.

The live-fire exercise tested joint capabilities for the first time between the two units that operate the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS.

The event began with a seven-hour, 280-kilometer convoy to UAE's live-fire complex in the southern portion of the country where the rockets were fired. Since it was the first time U.S. forces have fired the HIMARS in the UAE, the 1-14th FA "Steel Warriors" used the exercise to demonstrate their tactical and technical skills to their coalition partners.

"The live-fire exercise was a tremendous accomplishment for both 1-14 and the Emiratis," said Lt. Col. JP Maddaloni, 1-14th FA commander. "We demonstrated great camaraderie and true partnership combining our efforts in the tactical exercise and shooting rockets in support of decisive action training."

Because of the 115-degree heat, the 578th Forward Support Company worked extra hard to set up air conditioned tents to shelter everyone.

The training exercise not only furthered U.S. relations with the host nation, it resulted in the successful shooting of more than 65 rockets. The Steel Warriors qualified 16 HIMARS crews and four fire direction sections. The 97th HAR trained seven of its crews and fired 18 rockets.

"Working with our host nation allies was truly a rewarding experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said 1st Lt. Christopher Rossi, B Battery platoon leader.

The Steel Warriors and the 97th HAR began planning the exercise in May. The Warriors were excited to be the first U.S. force to fire their rocket systems in the UAE. Previous units traveled back to Kuwait, roughly 500 miles, to certify on their systems.

"I treated it like any other live fire, but looking back on it, I get to say I was the first Soldier to shoot in country, and that's pretty cool," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Robinson.

The field artillery battalion deployed to the region in April and is now stationed in the UAE. The unit should return to Fort Sill in 2014.

"The Emiratis were gracious hosts during the live-fire exercise, and we owe them our sincere gratitude for allowing us to participate in this great event," said Maddaloni. "I am proud of all the Soldiers in 1-14th FA for their hard work and achievements in UAE."