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    Thunderbolt Brigade insures readiness



    Story by Sgt. Jacob Kohrs 

    17th Field Artillery Brigade

    Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.- Maintenance soldiers are preforming a routine grey water pickup when yellow smoke starts to fill the air. A horn blows, everyone hurriedly dons their gas masks and starts giving the arm signals for a chemical attack. They quickly finish securing the water onto the truck, jump in the vehicles and move away from the contaminated area.

    This is one of the scenarios that Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment and 308th Brigade Support Battalion had to work through during the 17th Field Artillery Brigade’s battery and company evaluations, Feb 8-14.

    “This exercise,” said Sgt. Maj. David Cecil, 17th FA Bde. operations sgt. maj., “gives our battery and company commanders an outside set of eyes, looking in to give an honest assessment of their unit.”

    This past November, the Brigade underwent its own evaluation during the I Corps Warfighter Exercise. Now that the brigade headquarters has certified its readiness, the brigade leadership is ensuring the lessons learned are shared at the lowest echelons of command.

    The brigade commander giving observers to the battalions to help facilitate the evaluation of the key tasks that a field artillery unit must accomplish, said Cecil. This is to identify what the units are doing well and where they need more training.

    “Another thing that we will get out of this, is that the commanders will be able to get their training objectives for the next quarter,” said Cecil. “There were some struggles to begin with but that is what we want to identify now before possibly doing this for real.”

    Some of the basic tasks that the batteries and companies need to accomplish are fire missions, resupply, medical evacuations and basic security. Yet to meet some of these objectives they have to rely on the other batteries and companies.

    “The battalions absolutely have to work together to meet their training objectives,” explained Cecil. “One of the things that I have noticed is how well the cross-talk between BSB commander and the 1-94 commander. They are always talking about how they can help each other out and accomplish their own training objectives at the same time.”

    The batteries and companies are finding the training very effective too.

    “This training has been great for my soldiers,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Dunn, a platoon leader with 1-94 Field Artillery. “Doing this training here on JBLM is more realistic to the environment that we would find ourselves in around the Pacific area, and the terrain is very diverse. It’s easy to get stuck so we have to be cautions of the terrain and it is a lot harder to move around with all of the obstacles.”

    Overall, the training gave the brigade and battalion commanders a good understanding of their readiness to conduct whatever mission the Army and America’s I Corps requires of them.

    “We had some challenges when we first got out here,” said Cecil. “Yet despite those challenges, overall, I think that we are doing very well. It is not necessarily how you start but it is how you finish and I think that we are on the right track.”



    Date Taken: 02.15.2018
    Date Posted: 03.15.2018 11:34
    Story ID: 269490

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