FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Feb. 11, 2021) -- While many people were watching the Super Bowl, Soldiers from the 75th Field Artillery Brigade were flying on a 28-hour journey from the Middle East returning to Fort Sill.
The “Diamond Brigade” Headquarters and Headquarters Battery touched down early Feb. 9 at Oklahoma City, and then were bussed to Lawton.
For the 120 Soldiers it was the end of a nine-month deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, with numerous missions in six countries across 1,300 miles.
The 75th FA Brigade colors were uncased by the command team of Col. Ryan McCormack and Command Sgt. Maj. John Black Feb. 9 at about 6 a.m., at Henry Post Army Airfield. The uncasing ceremony symbolized the return of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, unit from the overseas operational deployment, said McCormack.
“We are excited to be back, and have this great welcome from the Lawton Fort Sill community,” said the colonel.
The 75th FA Brigade had a dual-hatted role in its deployment, said McCormack.
It was the U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) Force Field Artillery Headquarters (FFA HQ) putting it in command and control of all the field artillery assets in the region. Its other role was as Task Force Spartan’s artillery brigade responsible for supporting Operation Spartan Shield.
The brigade operated predominantly in Jordan and Kuwait, with support missions in Qatar, Syria, and Iraq, the colonel said.
The brigade provided responsive fires and terrain denial fires along with its subordinate 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery to aggressions in the area, McCormack said.
The brigade had cased its colors at Fort Sill on May 21 in the midst of the pandemic to travel to CENTCOM, but COVID-19 was something they had to deal with in Jordan, too, he said.
“The COVID environment made traveling across the area of responsibility a challenge,” McCormack said. One of the brigade’s sub-missions was to train with its partner brigades: First Rocket Artillery Brigade in Jordan and the Kuwaiti Land Forces Artillery Headquarters.
Sgt. 1st Class David Rowdy Yates, senior fire control sergeant, said the unit was involved in about 50 live-fire missions during the deployment.
Yates said he received a lot of his Soldiers right from Advanced Individual Training, so the deployment was literally a trial by fires for the neophyte fire control specialists.
“We did a lot of training there while we were on 12-hour shifts,” Yates said. This included digital crew drill missions, and training to fight a peer threat.
“We definitely ingrained the processes into our young Soldiers, and they gained a lot of knowledge,” he said. “I was very pleased.”
During the ceremony, McCormack addressed the formation of his returning Soldiers.
“Every Soldier had a role, and I’m proud to be a part that we played in deterring our adversaries, and the support that we gave to our partners,” he said.
McCormack recounted the numerous mission highlights.
•The brigade’s establishment of the FFA HQ in Jordan, had not happened since 2016.
•In addition to live-fires missions, Soldiers participated in over 2,000 operational rehearsal missions supporting Combined Forces.
•Soldiers maintained and optimized weapons-locating radar to protect Coalition Forces.
•Medical Soldiers provided excellent health care, and led the COVID response effort in Jordan.
•Noncommissioned officers trained and educated 22 junior Soldiers through the Basic Leaders Course, a critical component of the brigade’s select, train, educate, and promote process.
•Soldiers led the consolidation of the ARCENT HIMARS battalion’s command and control, and key sustainment functions.
•Soldiers completed the closure and demolition of Camp Red Leg in December, and as part of that led the transport of millions of dollars worth of equipment from the United Arab Emirates to Kuwait.
•The team developed and led several theater security-cooperation training events with partners in Kuwait and Jordan.
• Black and NCOs codified the base piece of the brigade’s People First and This is My Squad initiatives in October.
Concluding the ceremony, McCormack said: “The price we pay for success in life is often high. So are the rewards, and these rewards are not just treasure and money, not trophies, award recognitions … the rewards are the respect, loyalty, love, and trust of the people that surround you.
“To the Diamond Brigade Soldiers, leaders, family members, and friends: You have my trust,” he said.