By Keith Pannell, Fort Sill CannoneerMay 20, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla., May 20, 2011 -- Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, returned to Fort Sill, Okla., May 19, 2011, as keynote speaker for the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Army field artillery branch.
Odierno, who first learned to be a field artilleryman at Fort Sill in 1980, said he expects the field artilleryman to lead the way in developing innovative solutions for the future joint force.
"Our Soldiers are being asked to do more beyond their core competency," Odierno said. "Artillery formations have adapted and delivered, whether it be counter-fires units, or be it as infantry in other units, transportation companies or leading the way in conducting civil-military operations, artillery units continue to answer the call as an integral part of our combined force."
He said warfare has changed and the field artillery must change with it. But Soldiers must be mindful of the past to appreciate the change.
Speaking to a veritable who's who of former and current field artillery leaders, Odierno said the operations tempo will not slow down and neither will the responsibility placed on field artillery Soldiers, like those currently in classes at Fort Sill's Field Artillery School.
"To succeed in an often chaotic and decentralized combat environment, we will demand more of our junior officers, our noncommissioned officers and our Soldiers at the tip of the spear," Odierno said. "As we move into the second century of field artillery, the path ahead will become increasingly difficult, but increasingly vital."
The general said efforts must be prioritized and risks must be identified and assumed in areas where the Army may not be able to do as much as hoped. He said innovative solutions must be found to mitigate those risks.
Odierno was at Fort Sill to take part in the annual Fires Seminar and to help celebrate the field artillery centennial. After his keynote speech, Odierno watched as a monument was unveiled dedicating the original three-room School of Fires to Capt. Dan T. Moore, "The Father of Field Artillery." The building was built in 1911.
Monuments were also unveiled for the 50th anniversary by a graduate of the 1961 Officer Candidate School class, Walter Zaremba and for the 100th anniversary by 2nd Lt. Eric Nall, Field Artillery School student and youngest field artillery officer in the Army.
Odierno said he has one standout memory of his days at the Fort Sill schoolhouse from January to July 1980.
"I hate to admit this," but what I remember most about that time is that we had T-shirts made at the end of it that said, 'We survived 100 straight days of 100 degrees.' That was a rough year here at Fort Sill."
He said he is proud of his field artillery heritage and said it exposed him "to a variety of experiences that provided a foundation of skills and opportunities that allowed me to develop, not only as a person, but as a professional."
Odierno described the branch as "dedicated, adaptable, decisive and trustworthy" and has come to appreciate the diversity found in field artillery units around the Army.
At the end of the celebration, Odierno fired one round from a model 1897, French 75mm field cannon belonging to the Field Artillery Half Section, to signal the start of the next 100 years for the field artillery branch.