News: From Fires to Field Artillery, What’s in a Name?
Story by Capt. Tania Donovan
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Only seven years after the school opened, the 17th Field Artillery Brigade was constituted on July 31st, 1918 as an element of the 17th "Thunderbolt" Division at Camp Bowie, Texas. The unit was demobilized after World War I, in Feb. 1919, at Fort Sill.
In October 1936, Headquarters, 17th FA Bde., was reconstituted and consolidated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 17th FA Brigade.
Since its constitution, the “17th Field Artillery Brigade” was known as such for almost 90 years.
The Army Campaign Plan, also known as the Army Modernization Plan, facilitated discussion on the conversion of the name from Field Artillery to Fires. By late 2004, 4th Infantry Division was the first division to get its first “Fires” Brigade.
"The functions of a division artillery, a general support field artillery brigade, and the corps artillery have all been melded into one organization," said Col. Allen Batschelet, commander, 4th Infantry Division Artillery, in regards to the new transition and name change.
In the 2005 Red Book, an official and annual Field Artillery publication, it was published that "it is clear that a new fires organization had to be developed for the modular land force-one built around versatile combat power units and staffs that are more self-contained, sustainable and organized with capabilities for the full range of missions. It must be truly joint interdependent and contain adaptive, competent and confident Soldiers and leaders. The Fires Brigade was developed to fill this need."
The transformation from the field artillery brigade to a fires brigade took place and subordinate units moved from Forts Sill, Bragg, and Campbell to I Corps and Fort Lewis. Subsequently, 17th Fires Brigade was re-designated on July 16, 2007.
The mission of the Fires Brigade was adjusted but not entirely changed in 2007.
The name change has happened again. The construct of the brigade remains the same but its function and support relationship has changed.
The Field Artillery Brigade headquarters and its task organized firing capabilities provide the corps commander with strike and counter-fire capabilities, and the ability to coordinate, integrate, synchronize and employ the delivery of operational fires with joint and multinational assets.
By February 19, 2014, ten years after the original change from Field Artillery to Fires, the Department of the Army has approved the recommendation from the Fires Center of Excellence to standardize the names of all brigade combat team fires battalions and fires brigades.
“The Fires Center of Excellence also wants to retain the identity of the Field Artillery Branch that might have been lost through modularity,” said Maj. Elvin Cruz, force developer at the Fires Center of Excellence. “The proposed reason will increase uniformity, clarity, and efficiency,” said Cruz.
The approved recommendation has renamed all battalion-level (BCT and EAB) Fires organizations to field artillery battalions and all fires brigades to field artillery brigades.