GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany - Batteries from the 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team ("Iron Brigade"), 4th Infantry Division, applied a new spin on the "shoot and scoot" artillery tactic when they conducted a rare artillery raid using M109A6 Paladins during Combined Resolve IX here.
Before dawn broke, Paladin crews moved swiftly along dirt roads to a forward position from the rest of the brigade to shape a mock battle in a defense against a similarly sized conventional force. The raids occurred each morning the operation was run from Aug. 22-24.
"The raid allowed us to reach out beyond the normal lengths of our artillery ranges," said Capt. Ryan George, commander of Battery B, 3-29 FA Regt. "The purpose of this mission was to disrupt the enemy movement toward the brigade by emplacing a family of scatterable mines or FASCAM. That helps the brigade by moving the enemy where you want to fight them, not where they want to fight you."
Artillery usually have a certain target point, but the 3-29 FA Regt. artillery crews were pushed to perform beyond normal expectations.
"In a real-world scenario, when you have a target beyond the normal range of artillery, sometimes it's necessary to move forward of the line of troops in order to reach that target. Basically we would move forward, secure the element, designate a fire position, and fire from that position and very rapidly move back behind the firing flank," George said.
While self-propelled on tracks, the Paladins aren't normally designed for raid missions.
"You see a lot more artillery raids with rockets, light units, airborne operations, etc. The Paladins usually stay behind because the tempo is so rapid," George said.
But he added that the Iron Brigade has placed an emphasis on employing innovative fighting techniques that emphasize agility throughout the course of its nine month rotation as U.S. Army Europe's regionally allocated land force for Operation Atlantic Resolve. The mission calls for continuous rotations of armored brigades to Europe to serve as a credible deterrent to acts of aggression.
For some Soldiers participating at Combined Resolve IX, they had never experienced an artillery raid.
"I've been in the Army for a while," said Sgt. 1st Class Edwin Hernandez, a platoon sergeant for Btry. B. "Typically in our certification and qualification tables, we don't usually practice a raid. We'll do it in Table 12 platoon level, but to have the opportunity to come out here and conduct a rare mission during a live-fire exercise is a great experience for the Soldiers.
"It was very important for our leaders to see and understand the importance of a raid and what it can provide to our maneuver brothers and sisters on the battlefield," he said. "We don't just support from the rear, we are capable of supporting on the front line."
For George, executing a raid was just one example of how the Iron Brigade has approached its deterrence mission by training flexibility with lethality.
"We've done a lot of things as an armored brigade here in Europe that a lot of people thought we couldn't do - that I didn't know we could do," said George. "Massing most of our battalions with other nations in Cincu, Romania, for multinational exercise Getica Saber was very impressive. All of this definitely shows how adaptable, resilient and ready we are to fight anywhere."