U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Field Artillery Brigade, awoke before sunrise on the morning of June 1, 2021, to board the C-17 from the 164th Airlift Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Accompanying them in the cargo hold were two High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. The Soldiers were heading to Bulgaria to conduct a live-fire HIMARS Rapid Infiltration exercise as part of Saber Guardian 21, and return in the same day.
Saber Guardian 21 is the third exercise in the Fires Shock series and a sub-exercise of DEFENDER-Europe 21, designed to improve the integration of multinational combat forces involving long-range precision live-fires.
“It’s a great opportunity for rapid deployment and rapid insertion into a new location to ensure that when the time comes we are ready to defend our NATO Allies and Partners, “said Lt. Col. Anthony Brunner, the battalion commander for 1-77 FAR, 41st FAB. “It’s critical to routinely exercise Army and joint fires integrations with our allies and partners across continents to strengthen interoperability and the ability of our allies and partners to effectively call for precision long-range fires from multiple sensors.”
The 41st FAB is the only U.S. long-range, precision-strike capable Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems capable unit in Europe. This exercise stresses their ability to rapidly deploy across Europe and command and control long-range fires increasing their ability to fight and win as part of a U.S.-led NATO force.
“Our part of Saber Guardian is rapid movement to another region of Europe utilizing the Air Force, deploying our launchers from their aircraft and integrating with ground forces, being able to receive a fire-mission from those ground forces and then execute it,” said Capt. Micah Thompson, battery commander, Alpha Battery, 1-77 FAR.
“At a moment’s notice we are ready and capable to deploy long-range precision fires at the time and place of our choosing,” said Staff Sgt. Lendon Head, A HIMARS section chief assigned to Alpha, 1-77 FAR. “Exercises like Saber Guardian are important because providing ready, combat-credible forces allows the U.S. to develop the necessary readiness and lethality to defend against any potential adversary, provide an opportunity to enhance interoperability with allies and partners, and also train U.S. Soldiers on real-world scenarios.”
“It will be a great opportunity to not only get some hands-on experience, but also see how other countries operate,” said Spc. Parker Davis, a HIMARS driver with Alpha, 1-77 FAR.
The exercise was a unique cultural experience that allowed him to better understand how the Bulgarian military does things, said Davis.
“Enhancing relationships with allies and partners ensures the U.S. remain connected to the regional relationships it has developed,” said Thompson. “Additionally, the U.S. is always seeking out ways to improve security, interoperability, and host nation relations.”
“The Soldiers taking part in this mission have been the driving force behind its success,” said Head. “None of the challenges that have been faced in preparation for this mission would’ve been overcome if it weren’t for the hard work of every Soldier on this mission.”
“I just want to thank my Soldiers for their outstanding dedication to the mission,” said Thompson. “Their ability to adapt and overcome challenges has been really impressive, and as a commander, I couldn’t ask for more from my troops.”