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New rocket unit adds to Army artillery’s punch in Europe

Col. Seth Knazovich, right, the departing commander of the 41st Field Artillery Brigade, speaks during a change-of-command ceremony the same day the 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment was activated at Grafenwoehr, Germany, on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.

IMMANUEL JOHNSON/STARS AND STRIPES

By IMMANUEL JOHNSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 28, 2020

Note: This article has been corrected.

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The 41st Field Artillery Brigade received a boost in firepower with the activation Thursday of its second Multiple Launch Rocket System unit.

The 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment was activated at a change-of-command ceremony, during which Col. Seth Knazovich handed over responsibility for the brigade to Col. Daniel Miller.

Like its sister unit, 1st Battalion, 6th Regiment, the new unit will “provide long-range fires for Europe at the direction of either U.S. Army Europe or EUCOM,” Knazovich said, referring to the U.S. European Command.

About 170 of the 77th Field Artillery Regiment’s soldiers and their families have arrived in the Grafenwoehr area.

“Over the past six to seven months, half the formation has gotten on the ground and the other half will come in over the next 30 to 60 days,” Knazovich said.

Knazovich assumed command of the 41st Field Artillery Brigade when it was activated at Grafenwoehr in 2018, in line with the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which called for more firepower in Europe as part of a Russian deterrence strategy.

During the Cold War, the 41st Field Artillery brigade spent 33 years in Germany before being withdrawn in 2005. The brigade’s return to Europe was an early result of the 2017 act, spurred by the priority of boosting NATO’s collective defense.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. and NATO also have boosted their forces in Eastern Europe with rotational units.

The 41st Field Artillery Brigade is equipped with the M270A1, a self-propelled multiple rocket launcher in service since the 1980s, with a top range of more than 100 miles.

Grafenwoehr Training Area is home to the 7th Army Training Command and the service’s largest training ground in Europe. The command and the new unit haven’t been slated to leave, local Army officials said Thursday, under a plan supported by the White House eventually to move about 12,000 troops out of Germany.

The area is targeted to lose the Vilseck-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment, the only brigade-sized ground unit left in Germany. The unit and its roughly 4,500 soldiers would move back to the U.S. and rotate to Europe when needed, according to an outline of the plan announced by Defense Secretary Mark Esper in July.

johnson.immanuel@stripes.com
Twitter: @Manny_Stripes

 

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of the 77th Field Artillery Regiment's soldiers and their families who have arrived in the Grafenwoehr area. About 170 have arrived.

The 41st Field Artillery Brigade held a change-of-command ceremony during which Col. Seth Knazovich relinquished command to Col. Daniel Miller and the 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment was activated at Grafenwoehr, Germany, on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.
IMMANUEL JOHNSON/STARS AND STRIPES