GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- The 173rd Airborne Brigade welcomed a newly created field artillery battery at an Assumption of Command ceremony here, Nov. 13, that will manage the brigade's newest weapons system.
Capt. Donald B. Vance assumed command of Charlie Battery, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment. The new unit will be the third artillery battery in the 173rd and the only one expected to field the new M-777 howitzer.
Created in part to field the new M-777 howitzer, the battery also dovetails with the Army-wide implementation of the Army Brigade Combat Team 2020 initiative.
"The way I know other battalions did it, they took a whole different battery that already had this weapon system, and simply incorporated them into their brigade," Vance said. "What's unique about us is that we're starting from scratch."
Despite the urgent task of readying a new artillery battery with new equipment, Vance appeared confident.
Being stationed at Grafenwoehr provides the battery with numerous opportunities to familiarize themselves with the M-777, the new commander said. "Right in our backyard, we've got all the training areas we need -- just being able jump in a truck and drive five minutes away to the range is a great thing."
The new weapon system utilizes GPS-guided munitions and is capable of significantly extending the range at which Charlie Battery and the 4-319th can deliver artillery, Vance added. In addition to its extended range, the artillery can also be deployed via parachute, allowing the battery to be airborne capable.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade is headquartered out of Vicenza, Italy with elements stationed in Grafenwoehr. The brigade is one of only two brigade combat teams remaining in Europe. The brigade is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, capable of projecting forces within 18 hours to conduct the full of range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Commands areas of responsibility.