CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - It was just a few minutes past 8 a.m. when the first of two MC-130J Commando II aircraft from Cannon Air Force Base N.M., touched down on the Red Horse landing zone at Melrose Air Force Range, N.M.
The HIMARS is part of the U.S. Army's arsenal of medium tactical vehicles. It’s an all-wheel drive five-ton truck that carries a single six-pack of rockets. Its primary purpose was to engage and defeat enemy artillery, air defense concentrations and light armor personnel carriers, as well as support allied troops and supply concentrations. The versatility of HIMARS allowed crews to launch weapons and move away from the area at a high speed before enemy forces were able to locate the launch site.
“Our mission is to provide a strategic deep strike capability that does not endanger our air assets with precision accuracy,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Nelson Liuzzo, 82nd AD battalion fire directions officer.
The two HIMARS crews rallied at a pre-determined launch area on Melrose about three kilometers east of Red Horse and fired a volley of six reduced range practice rockets at a stationary decommissioned M1 Abrams tank, roughly nine kilometers away.
Emerald Warrior simulated special operations components in urban and irregular warfare settings. It leveraged lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and other historical events.
“This is our first Emerald Warrior exercise,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Cody Lindholm, 82nd AD. “It was a great experience that provided us with a realistic opportunity to work closely with the Air Force Special Operations Command JTACS and base support aircrews like we would in the field.”
“You can’t create the joint environment on your own. Melrose Air Force Range is one of the few places that can create a joint environment for us to enhance our training through its various capabilities,” he said.