FORT LIBERTY, N.C. – The 82nd Airborne Division headquarters, 82nd Airborne Division Artillery (DIVARTY), and 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) concluded their culminating training exercise, code-named GIANT, on August 23, 2023, with a live-fire training event called FIREBALL.
While GIANT was designed to synchronize multiple warfighting functions in support of an Airborne Joint Forcible Entry operation, FIREBALL focused on exercising joint fires capabilities at the division level.
Col. Daniel Gibson, Commander of 82nd DIVARTY, provided insight on how the division will operate under the Army’s doctrinal updates concerning large-scale combat operations.
“A division uses fires to shape the battlefield, [to] shape the enemy,” said Gibson. “So that by the time the enemy arrives in close combat, they’ve been degraded to such a point to ensure the success of our maneuver brigades.”
The live-fire event saw the deployment of DIVARTY’s multiple battalions of cannon artillery, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers from the 18th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB), a tenant unit on Fort liberty, and additional fires assets belonging to the 10th Marine Regiment from Camp Lejeune, NC.
“One of our key responsibilities is to integrate all manner of joint and multinational fires into the division’s operations,” said Gibson. “We pull in these different units [like 18th FAB and 10th Marines] to build that interoperability piece so that when we conduct exercises, or better yet when the times comes to go into combat, we already have that ‘connective tissue’ built.”
Col. Gibson also spoke on how the change in task organization for the field artillery (FA) battalions has impacted the decision-making process for the fire’s warfighting function.
“When the battalions were purely organic to the [brigade combat teams], realigning fires assets required a division order that would task one or more maneuver brigades to realign combat power,” said Gibson. “Now with the FA battalions under DIVARTY, we can tailor the support relationship so that it is no longer a division order, but a DIVARTY order that rapidly realigns those assets to better accomplish the mission.”
Over three days, the division achieved a wide range of objectives, starting with the division staff’s understanding of employing multiple assets under combat-simulated conditions while fully synchronizing and converging the division’s capabilities through its G3 Fires section, DIVARTY, and CAB.
Lt. Col. Scott Lorenzen, the 82nd Airborne Division Fire Support Coordinator, emphasized the synchronization of efforts at echelon throughout the exercise. “All of these efforts are synchronized by the division’s Joint Air Ground Integration Cell or JAGIC,” said Lorenzen. “Their function is essential to being successful at the division level.”
The JAGIC is the primary tool for the division commander to shape the battlefield with lethal fires. By controlling and coordinating all the division’s joint fires assets into one location, all required assets that directly affect the battlefield are consolidated at division level. In this role, the JAGIC can synchronize and mass joint fires to destroy the enemy.
One highlight of the exercise involved the use of the live-fire impact area on Fort Liberty, as the “division deep fight,” and integrating the division’s Immediate Response Force 1 to conduct air assault operations on designated objectives.
Ultimately, FIREBALL highlighted how the division coordinates the “deep and close fights” and underscored the importance of the division unit of action in the Army’s current operating concept of multi-domain operations.
-Airborne, All the Way-