Story by: Sgt. Calab Franklin, 3ABCT, 1CD, PA NCOIC
FORT HOOD, TEXAS – The distant sounds of booms and crashes filled the Fort Hood area as Troopers with 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment (2-82 FA), 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, sent the first set of Artillery rounds down range with the new M109A7 Paladin, Sept. 17, 2020.
Over the last five weeks, these Troopers endured a variety of vigorous training that all lead to this one moment: finally firing the new Paladin. The gain of this new equipment is a part of the GREYWOLF brigade’s ongoing modernization effort, enhancing combat power within America’s First Team and training on the world’s most up-to-date warfighting systems.
“We started in the DIVARTY (Division Artillery) motor pool learning the system and taking it back to the basics,” said Capt. Jonathan Harper, Commander of Bravo Company, 2-82 FA. “It is getting our Soldiers comfortable on a new platform.”
Each Soldier is trained for a specific job and now they get to prove that all the training and hard work has paid off; taking their expertise to the field to put themselves and their equipment to the test.
“The point of this exercise is to validate all of our Soldiers on the new system. Coming from the A6 to the A7 there are a lot of different changes,” said Harper.
The Paladin is more lethal now than ever. Many enhancements have been made to better enable the Troopers who operate them on the battlefield. One GREYWOLF Trooper, 1st Lt. Robert Fenton, Platoon Leader, Bravo Company, 2-82 FA, knows firsthand how strong these new platforms really are.
“We have a new chassis on the vehicle, we upgraded from an all hydraulic system to an all electrical system, as well as increased round capacity,” said Fenton. “In field artillery, being able to keep up with any maneuver increases our lethality and allows us to support to the best of our ability.”
Once the Troopers pulled their Paladins to their firing positions, silence filled the air. As the first round went off the ground shook for miles, stirring up dust and grit from the earth below them.
“It’s something that we love, it’s our passion,” said Staff Sgt. Pedro Torres, Bravo Company, 2-82 FA. “We train hard, we play hard, and we also tend to execute hard.”
Overall, the Troopers fired a total of 130 thunderous artillery rounds downrange, ensuring their equipment is fielded and battle ready.