Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.- Members of the 17th Field Artillery Brigade and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force trained together during Yama Sakura 71, an annual bilateral-exercise, at Camp Kengun, Kumamoto, Japan December 6-11.
This multi-domain exercise brought a large contingent of U.S. Soldiers to Japan and saw even more participating digitally from bases in the United States.
"The 17th FA Brigade, in conjunction with our Japanese counterparts, is responsible for directing fire support and shaping efforts for I Corps and provided additional capabilities for Japan's Western Army during the exercise," said Maj. Carson Davis, an operations officer with the 17th FA Brigade.
From the 17th FA Brigade tactical operations center on JBLM, Davis conducted mission command operations for the brigade, overseeing sustainment planning, field artillery operations, and intelligence analysis.
With Davis and his team in the U.S., the Thunderbolt forward element, led by Col. Andrew C. Gainey, the 17th FA Brigade's commander, interfaced directly with the I Corps shaping team.
Davis said Thunderbolt Soldiers on JBLM found themselves tackling challenges in a dynamic exercise that tested their ability to manage resources and report information in an accurate and timely manner.
"Effective mission command and developing systems has become a large component of this exercise for our battalions. They've worked very hard and have done an incredible job," said Davis. Adding that the Thunderbolt Brigade consistently trains to integrate with partner militaries in support of I Corps and U.S. Army Pacific.
While the exercise is large in scale, Soldiers across the brigade took advantage of the opportunity to train specific skills to increase their own readiness.
Spc. Adam Peterson, from Huntington Beach, Calif, is one of those Soldiers and a part of the 17th FA Brigade's intelligence section.
"I am learning a lot about tracking battle operations and mapping enemy positions and damages. These are things that were not taught in school and it's really helpful seeing the intelligence estimates and how they work," said Peterson, who noted that this was his first assignment as an intelligence analyst.
His role in the exercise is to track every round the 17th FA Brigade fires and the damage that was reported to the enemy and their equipment. Eventually, this information helps to form a product known as a graphic intelligence summary, or GRINTSUM.
A GRINTSUM is the depiction of significant threats and their possible activities, strengths and weaknesses to give commanders the opportunity to exploit and engage.
All of this is a small part in the Army's new land force concept of multi-domain battle and Peterson and his team have an impact across the board.
"I've found it really interesting. My team analyses information collected from multiple sources and send it to become part of the exercise. I'm enjoying being a part of this," Peterson added.
Further up the chain of command, Davis and his team take products, like the ones Peterson works on, and uses them to make recommendations to Gainey and the I Corps Shaping Team.
"Our primary objective is to support the forward elements on the ground in Japan," said Davis. "This is done through the application of mission command systems using digital communications, which are tied into the I Corps fire operations. This allows our unit to train in a multi-domain environment, and to ensure that the battalions have mission essential training."
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