News: 1-37 FA rains down steel on Yakima Training Center
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher McCullough
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – The ground shook and the air thundered as 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment “Red Lions” engaged multiple targets repeatedly at Yakima Training Center, Wash., during a live-fire exercise Oct. 9.
The Red Lions of 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., are at YTC this month to provide indirect fire support to the "Arrowhead" Brigade who is here for a field training exercise.
The exercise, which all 1-37 FA batteries will participate in, is a little different this year. For the better part of the last 11 years, the Arrowhead Brigade has largely focused on counterinsurgency tactics, so the Red Lions haven't shot as many rounds as they may have liked.
This year, however, the battalion is "getting back to basics," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Rivera, platoon sergeant, first platoon, Company C, 1-37 FA. Fundamentally, they are getting back to manual gunnery using the "old iron sights," he said.
"A lot of what we're doing now is the stuff I did when I was a private, back before the digital era of artillery," Rivera said.
Rivera went on to explain that over the last seven years the artillery community has largely moved to digital howitzers and because of that, getting back to the basics is a good thing.
"We haven't done a lot of training on the manual side of artillery [lately], or we didn't do it period because a lot of times a lot of units were transitioning; either going to or coming back from Afghanistan ... it was a big cycle. Now that the wars are winding down ... I think we'll get back to focusing on the basics of artillery," Rivera said.
The Red Lions' commander, Lt. Col. Roberto Menendez, agreed, pointing out that "a lot of these guys have not fought as artillery in a long, long time."
"Basic artillery is about moving, getting in position, to be in position, ready to fire, as quickly as possible, and then pick up and move again," Menendez said. "To do that, to be able to move these guns along a route, occupy, shoot, pick up again and move again requires a lot of training."
That type of training is precisely what the soldiers of 1-37 FA are receiving while at YTC.
"A good crew, a good platoon, can [undertake] an emergency mission and shoot live within six minutes of stopping the vehicle. Once the vehicle stops, six minutes later they're shooting live," Menendez said.
On average, Menendez's soldiers are doing that in nine minutes or less.
"This crew here today, when they occupied, it took them 20 minutes ... but today was only the first day of training. Literally this is the first day they've shot [at YTC]. In the next two to three weeks that occupation time will be reduced from 20 minutes to eight or nine minutes," Menendez said.
While Menendez has a lot of faith in his soldiers, one thing is for sure and that is "they will only get it from repetition, repetition, repetition," he said.