News: 'Kings of Battle' conduct Spartan Fury exercise before ITX
Story by Lance Cpl. Matthew Bragg
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Marines from Alpha and Bravo Batteries, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, completed a three-day training exercise dubbed Spartan Fury 13.3, June 11, 2013, through June 13, 2013. Alpha Battery fired multiple 155 mm artillery shells from three M777 howitzers and Bravo Battery fired with two.
The “Kings of Battle” practiced various fire missions called in from their corresponding command stations and fired different amounts of artillery shells at the given coordinates.
The entire exercise was in preparation for an upcoming infantry training exercise in August.
“These first two days are battery phases in which Alpha Battery and Bravo Battery are firing rounds downrange,” said Capt. John Huenefeld, Alpha Battery commander, 1st Bn., 12th Marines. “The last day of this exercise will be our battalion phase, in which the entire battalion will be handling multiple fire missions at a time. We don’t get to work together as a whole battalion very often, so we’ll be working hard to make sure operations go smoothly.”
During the battery phases, the individual teams manning the howitzers received a call and were given a set of coordinates along with a number of artillery shells to be fired. Each Marine had a specific job to make loading and firing the howitzer move quickly and precisely.
“It gets pretty hectic here on the firing line when we receive fire missions. We like to call it organized chaos,” said Lance Cpl. Thi Nguyen, a cannoneer with Alpha Battery, 1st Bn., 12th Marines. “A lot of the guys from Echo Battery were assigned to us when they deactivated, so we’ve got to adapt to each other because Alpha does things different than Echo did.”
After each shell was fired, the teams on the howitzers wasted no time loading the next round in the chamber. When the fire mission ended, the groups entered a period of intermission, where they rested, ate chow and readjusted the positioning of the howitzers.
“The ground here is rocky and unstable, so we have to raise the howitzers to help weigh them down,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Richardson, a cannoneer with Alpha Battery, 1st Bn., 12th Marines. “To do this, we raise the howitzer up until the barrel is nearly vertical and it helps re-stabilize its position in the ground.”
During the intermissions, the teams also gathered in circles behind their howitzer to discuss the success of the fire mission just completed. Marines pointed out what went right and wrong, and how to improve for the upcoming mission.
“Safety is key, obviously, but in the end you just have to be able to trust your fellow Marines,” Nyugen said. “The best thing you can do is apply the fundamentals, pull the string and watch the howitzer go boom.”
On the last day of training, “Kings of Battle” extended their training to battalion phase. Instead of Alpha and Bravo Batteries firing from one position, coordinates were occasionally called in and required them to move their howitzers to different positions.
“For battalion phase, we’ve got the entire battalion giving and receiving digital commands for switching positions and firing rounds downrange,” Huenefeld said. “Our main focus is to ensure our preparedness for providing combat artillery support for 3rd Marine Regiment during the infantry training exercise.”