By 1st Lt. Christian Mills, 2d Cavalry RegimentAugust 10, 2018
VILSECK, Germany -- For the majority of the 2d Cavalry Regiment, the crowning achievement of Saber Strike 18 was the execution of a more than 2,800 km tactical road march that started and ended at Rose Barracks, Germany. For the artillerymen of Bulldog Battery, Field Artillery Squadron, 2CR, the tactical road march was only half of the journey.
After returning from Saber Strike 18, Bulldog Battery seamlessly rolled into a Table XII platoon live fire qualification. This non-stop, 24-hour exercise demanded the battery execute every facet of the artillery mantra, "shoot, move and communicate." During the Table XII the battery was pitted against an operational force that required constant vigilance and a robust defense.
Additionally, the battery encountered simulated indirect fires and drone surveillance that forced them to make no less than six tactical emplacements and displacements. In spite of all this, the battery was able to fire 150 safe and accurate illumination and high explosive rounds as part of their qualification at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, June 23, 2018.
Conducting live fire operations after a movement of such magnitude was unprecedented for any battery anywhere in the U.S. Army. In being the first battery to execute an exercise of this kind, Bulldog Battery came away from their road march and Table XII with many lessons learned.
One of the most important lessons gleaned from Saber Strike 18 was that movements of this length require the battery to take additional steps before becoming fully mission capable. In particular, this movement necessitated that the battery conduct a confidence check of its howitzer's Digital Fire Control Systems as well as conduct Fire Control Alignment Tests on all of its manual gunnery systems. The reality of conducting these checks post tactical road march, was that the battery required an additional two to three hours before being able to confidently shoot in support of maneuver operations.
"Conducting checks of this kind is not something most units are required to think of," said 1st Lt. Joseph Garcia, platoon leader, Bulldog Battery, FA Squadron, 2CR. "They never move the distance for it to be required, or if they do move that far, it isn't immediately into a live fire training environment".
Moving directly from a large scale, multinational training exercise immediately into a Table XII platoon qualification is the closest the battery could come to achieving a real life combat scenario against a near pear adversary. The ability of Bulldog Battery to move across Europe and immediately execute fire missions in support of 2CR directly demonstrates their readiness to "fight tonight."