Setermoen, Norway - B Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade forward-deployed to northern Norway, where they conduct training in preparation for Exercise Joint Viking, a multi-day joint and combined arms force-on-force exercise. Joint Viking is a multi-national exercise which takes place over two-hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle and simulates a high-intensity conflict in a challenging winter environment.
B Troop Paratroopers had the opportunity to participate in a 'call-for-fire' lane utilizing 81mm mortar systems organic to 1-91 CAV. The training was a unique opportunity for junior enlisted scouts to learn call-for-fire procedures directly from the Troop's own Fire Support Team (known as the 'FIST') and execute live fire missions in a controlled environment, increasing their proficiency on an essential task for Airborne Cavalry Scouts.
"An important part of our job is ensuring that the scouts we support possess the essential skills to facilitate fire missions." said 1st Lt. Ellen Loran, B Troop Fire Support Officer, 1-91 Cav, who led the FIST team members conducting the training. "With proper training in call-for-fire procedures, we are able to provide a major asset to scouts conducting counter-reconnaissance."
Following an intensive block of instruction and final validation of their abilities, each scout proceeded to the live-fire area where they were able to call for high-explosive and illumination rounds in daylight and under conditions of limited visibility. Weather conditions were harsh, with wind speeds exceeding 50 kilometers per hour, freezing temperatures, and drifting snow up to four feet deep. In spite of the challenging arctic environment, over the course of three days more than 40 junior enlisted scouts were able to execute a live call-for-fire mission.
The ability of each scout to call-for-fire has become significantly more important given a recent change to the MTOE (Modified Tables of Organization and Equipment) for the Army's Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadrons. Individual scout platoons are no longer allocated enlisted forward observers. This change in MTOE means scouts must maintain proficiency at call-for-fire skills, or risk being left without the ability to utilize indirect fire assets to maximum effect in combat.
"This was a tremendous opportunity for my scouts to actually call-for-fire and adjust high explosive rounds," said Capt. Thomas Huens, Commander, B Troop, 1-91 Cav . "The ability to see effects on the battle field gives our scouts the confidence they need to employ indirect fires rapidly and accurately. Additionally, having my troop FIST team lead the training and facilitate the integration of one of our mortar sections is invaluable and helps build more cohesive, lethal teams."
Bulldog Troop FIST team members and 1-91 CAV's Mortar Section both had the opportunity to work closely with Norwegian Allies while conducting the live call-for-fire training, giving both teams opportunities to exchange TTPs and compare processes.
The training received and relationships formed during Joint Viking 17 will further strengthen 1-91 CAV's ability to respond to crises in any environment and contribute to the 173rd Airborne's Contingency Response Force mission.
The 173rd Airborne is the U.S. Army's Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapid forces to the United States European, Africa, and Central Command areas of responsibilities. Forward-based in Italy and Germany, the Brigade routinely trains alongside NATO Allies and partners to build interoperability and strengthen the NATO Alliance.