Exercise tests field artillery, Air Force rapid response

By Sgt. Joe Dees, 214th Fires Brigade PAOMarch 12, 2015

1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – An Airman from the 58th Airlift Squadron, Altus Air Force Base, directs the crew of a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System of B Battery, 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, loading into a C-17 Globemaster at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – An M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System from B Battery, 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, fires on a range at Fort Carson, Colo. The HIMARS Rapid Infiltration exercise simulated an emergency deployment to what could have been any location in... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Orial Christopher, 58th Airlift Squadron, Altus Air Force Base, secures a HMMWV to the cargo area of a C-17 Globemaster cargo plane during a joint exercise between Altus and the 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery of Fort Sill. The HIMARS ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, Okla. (March 12, 2015) -- First Battalion, 14th Field Artillery once again demonstrated the "Steel Warrior" Battalion's combat readiness and remarkable maneuverability by delivering a dozen rockets' payloads to targets on a Fort Carson, Colo., range.

In what is known as a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Rapid Infiltration (HIRAIN) exercise, elements from B Battery flew from Oklahoma to Colorado and back within a 12-hour span to test the unit's global capabilities and reach.

"HIRAIN operations help the joint task force commander to extend the operational reach of surface to surface fires," explained Lt. Col. J.P. Maddaloni, 1-14th FA commander.

"We can deliver all-weather precision strikes up to 300 kilometers and provide responsive fires within an air-parity operational environment all while minimizing the United States military signature on foreign soil."

The pre-dawn raid has been a fixture in the Army's history since George Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776, and this mission was no different with vehicles rolling out from Fort Sill en route to Altus Air Force Base well before the sun rose.

Following load-up at the air base, the Steel Warriors and their companions of the 58th Airlift Squadron lifted off in a C-17 Globemaster Cargo Plane bound for Colorado with two M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and two High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles.

Following a tenuous flight path that simulated flight over dangerous enemy territory, the plane touched down at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs and convoyed under a police escort to Fort Carson, where they quickly unloaded their payloads on target before hastily returning to the aircraft and Fort Sill.

"This joint training in conjunction with the live firing of rockets at a distant location marks the first time the battalion has conducted this type of training," continued Maddaloni. "We do these training exercises to ensure that field artillery forces remain relevant to the operating force and make a difference in a forward deployed theater of operations."

By simulating an emergency mission to attack an enemy airbase, the Steel Warriors demonstrated their global capabilities and ability to deploy, engage and destroy enemy forces in any corner of the world in the shortest of time frames. In a time where the Army is shifting its training focus from predicted and scheduled deployments to standing ready for future conflicts, a unit's ability to be mobile and immediately enter a fight on unfamiliar ground is critical to future success.

With the entire military preparing for and focusing on the conflicts of the future, this mission was well suited to the needs of all involved. In addition to the battalion's valuable training, the Airmen and flight crews from Altus AFB loaded and flew equipment and Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo. This provided a rare opportunity to work and train beside a rocket unit, a fact that would be common and necessary in combat.

This detail was not lost on the Soldiers at Fort Carson who know the 214th Fires Brigade falls under the 4th Infantry Division and is currently in the process of transitioning into 4th Infantry Artillery and moving to Colorado.

"You don't see HIMARS here," said Sgt. Josh McCarthy, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 4th Divarty at Fort Carson. "But, flying in from Fort Sill and firing in a few hours really shows how versatile Army Field Artillery is. This really let's you know that we are mobile, long range and have the capability to project power where it is needed, when it is needed."

While the mission covered over 1,000 miles and took only 12 hours, this first-of-its-kind training mission took incredible planning and coordination between two military branches and four separate bases. The nearly flawless results were testament to the incredible planning by leaders at each location as well as the professionalism and abilities of the Soldiers and Airmen who accomplished the mission.