By Capt. Jason Buselli October 28, 2016
Table XVIII is a rare accomplishment and the final qualification measure that a field artillery battalion can achieve.
This training event allowed Lt. Col. Jonathan Harvey, commander, 2-15 FA, to test his battalion's ability to simultaneously fire multiple rounds, in successive volleys, at a single target, many kilometers away.
"In my eighteen year career I've been a part of a battalion level training event such as this maybe two or three times," said Harvey.
"Table XVIII is the culminating training event for a field artillery battalion," said Harvey.
He continued to explain some of the training gates that a battalion must pass to achieve this level of proficiency, "Our training starts with progression to Table VI, which is a live fire validation of a section," said Harvey. "Followed by Table XII, which is an STX (Squad Tactics) based…event for a platoon, then to Table XV, which is a replication of missions at the battery level."
During this two day event six platoons, consisting of 15, M777A2 and M119A3 Howitzers, fired approximately 400 high explosive rounds with the goal of impacting in a 50 meter square area.
On day one 2-15 FA integrated Table XVIII into 1st Battalion, 89th Calvary Regiment's Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise, focused on providing timely fire support.
As part of the tactical scenario 1-89 Cav. scouts, identified a large armored enemy force and immediately called their sister battalion, 2-15 FA, for artillery support.
Within minutes of the last transmission of the call for fire, 105mm and 155mm Howitzer rounds impacted on target, which successfully suppressed the enemy force and allowed 1-89 Cav. to continue their mission unimpeded.
"This training event is probably the first time that I have been a part of a battalion level exercise that is truly nested into a maneuver elements training," said Harvey.
The second day focused on accuracy exercises. Fire direction officers dialed in each of their gun tubes with the aid of accurate forward observer corrections that were derived from Long-range Laser Designating System spottings.
To accomplish this forward observers measured dispersion, adjusted sheafs, and called for fire on multiple targets simultaneously.
"With the indirect fire that the guns are shooting today, they cannot see where the rounds are impacting," said Sgt. 1st Class Brock Benson, fires operations sergeant, 2BCT. "We provide first hand reporting to the gun line that allows them to accurately adjust their guns, safely shoot and hit their targets."
Field artillery operations are transitioning from the era when one or two howitzers are prepositioned on forward operating bases in Afghanistan and Iraq to support counter-insurgency operations.
The army is now calling on the King of Battle to utilize all of its combat power to destroy, neutralize, or suppress large conventional forces in a deceive action training environment.
Table XVIII is a critical training gate to validate a unit's ability to function in a conventional conflict and 2-15 FA successfully demonstrated that they are fully capable of such a feat.