UDAIRI RANGE, Kuwait-- Commanders of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (2ABCT), Task Force Spartan, gathered at the observation point at the Udairi Range complex to observe the close coordination between maneuver elements and the various elements of fire support on May 8.
Months of training were essential to ensure the Soldiers of the Iron Brigade were prepared and ready to successfully execute the fire coordination exercise, or FCX.
The exercise was the combined effort of four 2ABCT units: 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment; 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment; the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion; and the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment.
The FXC was the first collective staff training event for many of the senior leaders, due to recent transitions. It provided an excellent opportunity for members of the brigade to plan, synchronize, and rehearse a breach operation supported by artillery.
The rehearsals allowed the brigade to its tactical standard operating procedures, and refine its planning processes. Dry and live-fire execution at Udairi Range allowed company commanders, with their attached fire support officers, to execute mounted maneuver while synchronizing direct and indirect fires in support of a breaching operation.
"The fire coordination exercise provided company level armor and infantry commanders the ability to focus on [artillery] planning and execution with their assigned fire support teams. This enabled company leaders to experience the real employment of fires supporting a scheme of maneuver," said Lt. Col. Smith, commander of the 4-27 FA.
The FCX was a mounted "walk-and-shoot" which allowed M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and M2A3 Bradley Fight Vehicles to maneuver on a lane while employing live-artillery and mortar fires.
"This FCX was an exceptional opportunity to build upon the smaller live-fire exercises the battalion conducted during this deployment," said Lt. Col Kris Howell, commander of the 1-37th Armored Regiment.
The purpose of the exercise was to teach the leaders of the brigade what capabilities they have in a combat zone, and to provide a live-fire training environment for commanders to practice the necessary steps of working multiple fire support elements safely and concisely.
"Integrating 4-27 FA and the BDE TAC resulted in a great exercise for not only the ground maneuver elements but also multiple echelons of command posts," said Howell.
By accurately responding to requests and providing fire support in a timely manner, it allowed each support element the opportunity to train on their mission and gain greater proficiency with their equipment.
Despite the preparation, not everything went according to plan. High winds and poor visibility impacted the ability of observers to identify targets. Despite these challenges, 1-37 Armored Regiment was able to fight through and execute the mission during two iterations.
"Poor visibility from blowing dust and high winds enabled my battalion to employ our 'Q50 Radar' as an artillery observer. It provided accurate information of where shells were landing, despite the poor visibility," said Lt. Col. Smith.
The FCX provided a realistic, earth-rattling experience for each participant and proved how crucial cooperation and coordination from different war-fighting elements are to operational success.