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Fort Drum soldiers train for future of artillery work (VIDEO)

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FORT DRUM — A shift from Afghanistan and Iraq to tomorrow’s missions will require artillery soldiers from post to increase their mobility.

Previously, artillery units would arrive in Afghanistan to guns already in place, and fire from the same place for the duration of their tour. Now, they must know how to pick up and change positions quickly, given the possibility of enemy forces attacking their position.

“It’s a complete 180,” said Capt. Glenn R. Walton, who commands the Alpha Battery in the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. “We’re so used to the conditions not changing, and being able to focus on one task over and over. Now we have to understand the whole picture.”

On Thursday, crews from the battery were out at the post’s ranges, firing 105 millimeter rounds from howitzers at targets about 5 to 6.5 kilometers away. Lining up their targets and getting the clearance, soldiers fired and created a deafening boom.

In three days, units have shifted nearly 10 times across the range area, with some changes as small as a few kilometers, others closer to 20.

The key for artillery units’ movements is to support infantry forces ahead, and remain aware of potential enemies.

“We’re training to fight an enemy that can find us, and can hurt us, and can touch us, just the same way we can do for them,” Capt. Walton said. “We got to know that every time we shoot in support of our infantry units, somebody could be looking for us and they’re going to be trying to take us away from the battlefield.”

A key lesson in shifting to a more mobile effort is packing as light as possible, Capt. Walton said. “If you can’t carry it, you can’t have it,” he said.

Capt. Walton said this week was one of the first times the unit has practiced different techniques. “We’re relearning all of our systems,” he said.

The exercise and follow-up training will allow the soldiers essentially to rewrite their standard operating procedures.“The only thing that doesn’t change is putting a round into that gun,” Capt. Walton said.

Video from the training can be found at http://wdt.me/drum-defensive-training.

Artillery movement training at Fort Drum
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