By Spc. Terence Ewings 4th Advise and Assist Brigade Public Affairs 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Division-NorthJuly 2, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq " Since November 1775, U.S. Army field artillerymen have become renowned for their use of indirect fire weapons support to provide timely, accurate and lethal deliveries of artillery munitions.
More than 200 years later, modern-era “Kings of Battle” serving with 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, are advising, training and assisting their Iraqi partners on how to use fire support weaponry to defend Iraq.
Soldiers of Battery B, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th AAB, mentored field artillery crews from 2nd Iraqi Army Division during a course on M198 155mm howitzers at Ghuzlani Eagle Training Site, Iraq, June 21.
“We’re here to teach the Iraqi soldiers how to properly use the M198 howitzer so they are capable of providing indirect fire support for their unit,” said Capt. Chad Fitzgerald, commander of Battery B.
For the past two weeks, “Black Dragons” artillerymen from Battery B taught Iraqi soldiers how to assemble and disassemble the howitzer’s components and use grid coordinates to compute firing data.
“The Iraqis have made great gains throughout the classes,” said Fitzgerald, a native of Arlington, Texas. “They are eager to learn and just as quick to pick-up on what is being taught.”
“These guys are making history,” said 1st Sgt. Mario Lindsey, senior enlisted advisor for Battery B. “I worked on this howitzer when I was a private. Few field artillerymen that are in today’s Army can say they’ve had an opportunity to work on this weapon system and also train a new Iraqi field artillery unit on how to be proficient with it.”
While the fire direction center artillerymen worked on enhancing the Iraqis’ map-reading and mathematical skills, U.S. cannoners tested their IA counterparts’ ability to assemble and disassemble the breach of an M198 howitzer.
“Both field artillery specialties are critical to utilizing an M198 howitzer; it requires teamwork and builds camaraderie among the Soldiers,” said Lindsey, a native of DeFuniak Springs, Fla.
After the IA soldiers complete their advanced computing procedures and howitzer proficiency tests, Black Dragons Soldiers will continue to prepare their Iraqi partners for a live fire exercise scheduled for next month.
“We put a lot of hard work into training these guys, and they give us the same amount of effort back,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Spurling, a native of Killeen, Texas, and field artilleryman assigned to Battery B. “They want to know how to do this; that’s why we train them.”