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Field artillery prepares for Combined Resolve

By MICHAEL S. DARNELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 27, 2016

VILSECK, Germany — Residents near the military communities in Vilseck and Grafenwoehr have had to come to terms with the idiosyncrasies of living near U.S. Army Europe’s premier training locations.

A constant stream of troops coming and going at all hours of the night, helicopters flying overhead and the sporadic boom of artillery shells – all require some getting used to.

As major exercises roll in, like the upcoming multinational Combined Resolve VII that will soon occupy much of Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr, the quirks that come with living near a training base are amplified.

Take for instance, the house-shaking shockwave from an artillery shell exploding miles away. Thanks to the soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team’s artillery regiment, residents near Rose Barracks must get used to dealing with that phenomenon.

The 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment is undergoing a test of its ability to support an armored brigade, according to the unit commander, Lt. Col. Mike Owens. This is the third and final time the regiment will be deployed alongside the 1st ABCT as USAREUR’s regionally allocated force, Owens said, and the unit plans on making the most of their time here.

“When you’re in a deployed environment, it sort of strips away some of the other training distractors you get while in a garrison environment,” Owens added.

As such, each battery is undergoing a multiple daylong field exercise in which it will have to occupy an area, respond to shifting fire requests and repel attacks from enemy forces.

And of course, fire off plenty of shells. According to Alpha Battery’s commander, Capt. Peter Beamer, just three M109A6 Paladin howitzers were able to fire off roughly 400 155mm rounds in just one day’s worth of firing.

“What most combat units need is a mission like this, where they can come over and focus on it,” Owens said. “What we need is the time and repetition to get good at this type of conflict and then we’ll be able to support whatever the mission requires.”

Charlie Battery already finished its round of firing and has moved on to support Operation Flaming Thunder, a multinational training event in Lithuania. Bravo Battery wrapped up its range last week. Alpha Battery is scheduled to be finished by the end of the week, meaning residents near Vilseck may get a relatively quiet weekend.

darnell.michael@stripes.com
 

An M109A6 Paladin belonging to Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment fires during a live-fire exercise at the training grounds in Vilseck, Germany, on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.
MICHAEL S. DARNELL/STARS AND STRIPES

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