By Sgt. Brandon A. Bednarek, 210th Field Artillery Brigade Public AffairsMay 26, 2015
CAMP CASEY, South Korea - Approximately 300 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division Artillery landed at Osan Air Force Base May 26, 2015 as part of the Army's restructuring of field artillery brigades.
The Multiple Launch Rocket System battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Johnathan M. Velishka and based out of Fort Hood, Texas, is the first rotational artillery unit to arrive on the peninsula and represents the military's ongoing commitment to the U.S.-Korea alliance, said Col. Michael J. Lawson, commander of 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
"I had the opportunity, on their arrival, to greet each Soldier as they came off the aircraft at Osan and it was very rewarding for me to see the excitement in their eyes," said Lawson. "The 'Deep Strike' Battalion is well-trained, superbly led and I'm very excited to have them in the brigade."
Announcement of the unit's nine-month rotation was approved by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and made public in March through a Department of Defense news release.
While deployed to Korea, the battalion will be operationally controlled by the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, whose strategic position in the Gyeonggi-do Province serves as a deterrence to North Korean aggression.
Although it remains passive in posture, the brigade is more than equipped to conduct counter-fire operations at a moment's notice from its current location just south of the DMZ.
"In less than 60 seconds, this brigade can launch 576 rockets back at enemy artillery; utterly destroying that enemy's ability to fire long-range," said Maj. Jeremy F. Linney, the brigade's operations officer.
The brigade's primary method of fires is derived though employment of its MLRS launchers, which are specifically designed to defeat enemy artillery and air defense assets. The tracked vehicle is also capable of firing GPS-assisted rockets that are 13 feet in length and carry up to a 500-pound explosive payload, he said.
Arrival of the 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment not only increases the brigade's number of MLRS battalions from two to three, it also adds a dozen launchers to its inventory; allowing Lawson to impact a larger area more rapidly if necessary.
"The decision to bring a rotational MLRS unit over here to Korea is because the importance of the counter-fire mission that the 210th Field Artillery Brigade provides for the alliance in the Republic of Korea," said Linney. "The addition of another battalion greatly increases our flexibility and operational reach."
After months of extensive training at Fort Hood and the National Training Center, the battalion arrived to Korea fully trained and prepared to "Fight Tonight". By combining their initial training with a real-world mission, Soldiers will have an opportunity to capitalize on an artillery experience that is truly second to none.
"One of the great things about being an artilleryman in Korea is we train every single day with one focus in mind, and that's to be the absolute best," said Linney.
Unlike artillerymen who may have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and performed base defense or convoy security, the brigade trains solely for its mission as experts in counter-fire, he said.
"At the Soldier level, I think it affords them the opportunity to do an operational deployment in support of the theater's strategic objectives," said Lawson. "It also affords them the opportunity to work with a foreign army, exercise their skill sets and improve themselves tremendously as a professional Soldier in the artillery."
In preparation for the influx of troops and equipment, the brigade spent nearly a year overseeing the consolidation of barracks and motor pools to accommodate space within its existing footprint. A newly renovated headquarters building was also established for the battalion to conduct its day-to-day operations.
Additionally, the brigade will soon receive a second artillery battalion from the 1st Cavalry Division to replace the howitzer capabilities lost when the 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment deactivates in June with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
When that transition occurs, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division will backfill the armored brigade as a rotational asset and offer operational control of its 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment to the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, further increasing the unit's flexibility and firepower.
"Overall, the brigade is increasing its firepower and capabilities by adding another rotational MLRS battalion and the two additional howitzers that will come in with 3-16," said Linney. "But more than just the systems, what we're really increasing is the wealth and depth of experience."