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By: Capt. Gus Lafontaine, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
The 138th Field Artillery Brigade is currently participating in Dynamic Front 18 Training Exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany. This is the third of a four part series that documents the 138th Field Artillery Brigade Overseas Deployment Training. Click to read parts one and two.
GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany -- "When faced with a challenge, you hit them head on and figure out the solution."
Those were the words of Lt. Col. Mike Woodson, training officer for the 138th Field Artillery Brigade, as he reflected on Dynamic Front 18. Soldiers of the 138th participated in the training exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany. On Thursday, Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell visited the 138th to recognize the performance of the Soldiers who, when faced with a challenge, hit it head on and figured out the solution.
Two of the Soldiers recognized by Campbell had key roles in improving processes that led to quicker, more efficient fire missions. Sergeant William Wickstrom identified one of the first challenges they faced during Dynamic Front. “We were not designated any air control whatsoever for this exercise.”
Influencing the use of air space is important as field artillery operators fire artillery rounds that can reach altitudes of up to 80,000 feet.
First Lt. Cody McMillen expanded, “the biggest challenge we faced in the beginning was working with our Air Force counterparts. We had to figure out a solution on how to share and clear the air space with them so that we could be quick and effective on the battlefield.
He added, “it was a challenge to come to terms and agreement with each other, however with a lot of coaching from our Observer, Coach, Trainer (OCT) as well as a lot of assistance from our Air Force liaison from the Kentucky Air Guard, Lt. Col. [Ash] Groves, we were able to sit down and figure out the best solution.”
The teamwork paid off. “When we implemented our practices, our times for firing and counterfiring were drastically cut,” said Wickstrom.
According to Brigade Commander Dennis Hawthorne, Soldiers like Wickstrom and McMillen played an integral role in the success of this training exercise. “These Soldiers not only provide
the leadership and professional understanding in their specialized fields, but also challenged fellow team members to improve their proficiency. Their dedication is just one example of how Soldiers in the 138th stepped up to the challenge of working in a multinational environment.”
Woodson reflected on the benefit of participating in the joint exercise, “conducting a multinational exercise is something that we don’t do very often. This exercise allowed us to gain a better understanding of how we would fight under a NATO corps.”
Although the NATO training mission concluded last week, the 138th will soon begin preparing for their next warfighter exercise in 2019.
Hawthorne concluded, “the successful completion of this training exercise not only prepares us for any possible future mission, but also highlights some items to focus on for our next warfighter in 2019. The integration and interoperability lessons learned at both individual and unit level has greatly enhanced our readiness.”