LIEPĀJA, Latvia – Two M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) were deployed via rapid aerial insertion by combined forces working alongside U.S. Army Europe and Africa to demonstrate the movement capabilities of the missile systems to locations in Ādaži and Liepāja, Latvia, Sept. 26 - 27, 2022.
In Latvia, joint U.S. military personnel assigned to 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, and the 1st Infantry Division Artillery, utilized two C-130 Hercules aircraft, attached to the 352nd Special Operations Wing, as part of NAMEJS Exercise, to deliver the weapons systems to both locations. After successful delivery, the HIMARS moved to Ādaži and conducted a dry fire drill immediately upon arrival. HIMARS located at a firing point near Liepāja conducted a live fire exercise using two Reduced-Range Practice Rockets.
“It’s been nothing but great since we’ve been out here,” said Cpt. William A. Christner, commander of Baker Battery, 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade. “We have this launcher [in Liepāja] and we have another launcher that flew into Spilve airfield, and I have two more launchers at Camp Ādaži supporting the maneuver brigade.”
This quick response exercise, performed in tandem with Latvian Armed Forces and Swedish DIVARTY Forces, was conducted to display how fast long range artillery assets can be mobilized across Europe.
“This is tactical operations with strategic effect,” said Col. Richard J. Ikena Jr., commander of the 1st Infantry Division Artillery, affectionately nicknamed “Drumfire.”
It is important to know NATO’s capabilities and to understand what each partner can do; what the United States can do, what the Latvian military can do, and how to better work together, said Lt. Col. Viktors Kareckis, battalion commander for the Latvian National Guard’s 4th Brigade, 44th Infantry Battalion.
“I can say that being together is good,” Kareckis said.
Kareckis and his unit coordinated force protection alongside U.S. Soldiers during NAMEJS, a Latvian-led combined military exercise.
“It’s important that we maintain our readiness and our lethality to be able to support operations worldwide,” said U.S. Army Maj. Jenkins L. Dove, an operations officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Infantry Division Artillery. “It’s great to see us increasing our ability to work together and use this system in any location.”
Designed for rapid deployment, HIMARS are wheeled missile launcher systems capable of launching multiple guided artillery strikes on long range targets. This missile system is capable of carrying one pod of six guided rockets, or one pod of a larger extended range missile. HIMARS is capable of rolling onto an aircraft, rolling off of an aircraft, and firing within two minutes of landing. The rockets can fire up to 70 km. (approx. 45 miles) while the guided missile can fire up to 270 km. (approx. 170 miles), said Christner.
“The launcher can roll up to a firing position, acquire its position via GPS and be ready to shoot within thirty seconds,” said Christner. “One of the advantages the HIMARS has is its mobility. It’s a wheeled vehicle so it’s much faster and can go to a lot more places than a tracked vehicle. It’s also mobile in that it can get on an aircraft and fly to austere airfields to extend its range.”
Combined military forces with the United States and Latvian Armed Forces used this exercise to train together so as to learn from one another and operate more effectively as partners.
Since April 2014, U.S. Army Europe and Africa has led the Department of Defense's Atlantic Resolve land efforts. Atlantic Resolve provides rotational deployments of combat-credible forces to Europe to show the U.S.' commitment to NATO while building readiness, increasing interoperability and enhancing the bonds between ally and partner militaries.
As of Nov. 2021, the newly reactivated V Corps has assumed command and control of all Atlantic Resolve rotational forces.
“It’s been a great time being able to support the Latvian defense forces during their missions and training scenarios,” said Christner.