News: Local leaders, community partners observe live-fire exercise on Fort Riley
Story by Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire
FORT RILEY, Kan. — As part of Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division’s Victory Week celebrations, Soldiers with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div. and other units conducted a combined arms live-fire exercise as an audience of hundreds of Flint Hills leaders and Fort Riley community partners looked on and listened in as some of the Army’s most advanced equipment shook the very ground.
Guests were also guided around various static displays manned by 1st Inf. Div. Soldiers prior to the beginning of the live-fire exercise.
The event was a way of reaching out to local partners in gratitude for their support of Fort Riley as well as a chance to show first-hand what Soldiers do on a day-to-day basis within the post’s training areas.
“It’s amazing, and I think that this is a great opportunity for the communities that surround Fort Riley, to take that opportunity to come and see what the Army does,” Ligia Paquette, a retired teacher and Lady Trooper from Junction City, whose late husband was in the military, said. “I think they if they know a little bit more about what Fort Riley is they would be even more supportive, they’ll know why all the shooting goes on out here.”
The focus of the exercise was the reduction and capture of two objectives, one representing an urban area and another representing a cluster of enemy forces. Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd ABCT used M1A2 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles along with a dismounted squad to seize the urban objective.
1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment Paladin howitzer crews provided indirect fire support.
“We took ground and aerial platforms, all of our weapons systems and conducted a deliberate assault, a clearance, and a breach clearance to seize the final objective,” Maj. Brandon Cave, operations officer with 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt., said.
Those aerial platforms included both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, he said.
“OH-58D Kiowa helicopters were flying in support of (ground forces), and we brought in a flight of A-10 Warthogs from the Air Force.”
As the audience watched, they were also able to hear the discussions going on between commanders in the rear and the Soldiers on the ground via speakers which amplified tactical radio communications, which Cave said enhanced their experience.
“What it was was trying to get the audience to understand a little bit of the complexity that goes on behind the scenes,” he said. “If you just watch the vehicles you can see them shoot, move and hit these targets, (but) what is not apparent is the crews’ coordination with the commander as they move down the battlefield.”
The combined effect was impressive, said one guest, a Korean War veteran.
“Everything was great, it’s just unbelievable the firepower now compared to what we had,” Bob Neitzel, whose close relative was recently awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for service in the 1st Inf. Div. “Those (A-10) Warthogs are awesome.”
Other veterans in attendance agreed.
“The rapid fire and the amount of firepower the Bradleys can bring to bear quickly was impressive,” Byron Alexander, a member of the Manhattan Military Affairs Council, said. “The Abrams (tanks) are impressive too.”
Alexander’s fellow MAC member, Gene Klingler, said that the exercise and the event in general was a good way to interact with individual Soldiers.
“We talked to one Soldier, it was a joy talking to him, learning about him and where he’d been and the like,” he said. “These Soldiers are not only part of the fabric of our nation but certainly what they contribute to Kansas, Junction City and Manhattan is just fantastic and it’s a pleasure to get to know them and their families.”