By 2nd Lt. Jordan Knutsen 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment,

Soldiers from Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducted air assault operations training at Training Area 12 May 1-2. The Soldiers executed two days of training.

On the first day, they conducted cold and hot load and elevator training, during which they certified rigging hookup standards and procedures. On the second day, the air assault operations consisted of rigging three M119 howitzers on UH-60 Black Hawks and transporting them to a landing zone where they would de-rig the weapons to conduct dry fire missions.

The training enables Soldiers to train as they fight to maintain lethality, according to Sgt. 1st Class Gerardo Figueroa, first sergeant for Bravo Battery, 2nd Bn., 77th FA.

The battery, which recently came back from a deployment to Afghanistan where it conducted air defense artillery operations, hasn't been able to conduct air assault operations training since 2017, added Figueroa.

To build their proficiency up again, the Soldiers partnered with the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., which provided three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the training.

"Doing something out of the ordinary is always going to be extra motivation for the Soldiers," said Figueroa. "You always want more than one crew that is proficient for this type of operations; we always need a back up to the back up."

Bravo certified nine hook up teams in order to support future mission requirements and build operational readiness for the high-tempo unit.

Sgt. Michael Spees, a howitzer section chief, was able to train seven Soldiers to properly hook up the howitzers to the aircraft.

Spees described the training as beneficial, since Soldiers with a wide variety of experiences could get hands-on practice.

"The new modern day Army is going into sling load operations so the importance of this training sets you up when you go to Afghanistan or Iraq, because you're not going to be driving from area to area," said Spees. "The fastest and most effective way is by helicopter, this way we can shoot that fire mission quickly and move our helicopters from one location to another in a short amount of time."