FORT STEWART, Ga. (March 2, 2016) -- The big guns of 3rd Infantry Division Artillery, roared to life during a Mass Fire Mission on Fort Stewart, March 1. Division artillery teamed with Company E, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, who provided the services of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial system.

Col. Todd R. Wasmund, commander, 3rd ID Artillery said the mission was a culmination of a series of training events that enabled them to exercise their digital fires support systems.

"We have 36 cannons in the division and all of them were firing today all at the same time," Wasmund said. "This training is very important to us to be able to exercise, most importantly, our digital fires support systems and being able to communicate between each of the elements. It's much more efficient and enables us to communicate more effectively than if we relied on older systems."

For the first time ever, Division Artillery teamed with the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial system, which was utilized for a wide range of purposes including target identification, observing the rounds as they are fired, and assessing battle damage.

The commander of Company E, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Capt. Derek Debruhl spoke about what it meant to be partnered with Division Artillery, and what it means to be a part of the cutting edge technology utilized by the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial system.

"This is the first time we are supporting the Division Artillery and we have live rounds going down range, so it's very interesting to be able to take the [MQ-1C] Gray Eagle to the next level and expand what we do with it," Debruhl said.

Debruhl said on a normal mission, his team typically does surveillance, reconnaissance, manned and unmanned teaming with the AH-64D Apache helicopters within the brigade. He relished the opportunity to showcase his team of skilled Soldiers while working side by side with Division Artillery.

"This is an amazing opportunity for us to expand our capabilities and what we provide to the fight," Debruhl said.

From the observation point, Wasmund and his senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Johnson watched as the barrage of artillery fire turned the landscape into a giant cloud of dust and smoke. The three different cannons the team utilizes, the M777A2 and the M119A3 Howitzers and the M109A6 Paladins demolished their targets with pinpoint accuracy.

Afterward, Wasmund spoke on the usefulness of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial system as a tool for Division Artillery.

"The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is enormously important for us to be able to observe in a way that we just can't from standing on observation post," Wasmund said. "The MQ-1C Gray Eagle enabled us to see from literally a birds-eye view how the rounds were impacting, and how accurate they were. It is an invaluable tool."