GUERNSEY – The 2-300th Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) of the 115th Fires Brigade conducted a live-fire exercise with their high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) June 30. The exercise is the culmination of their annual training in which they are required to qualify with the system every year. But what many may not know is the amount of preparation that goes on before the rockets even fire.
Before firing, they must adhere to strict safety procedures. Fire Direction Officer 2nd Lt. Matthew Buchanan creates and performs the missions for the launchers and also performs safety analysis.
“I coordinate with range control and build a safety diagram for this range, from and to our desired target,” Buchanan says. “Before the launchers can shoot, they need to verify where they are pointed to make sure they are pointed in a safe direction.”
All of this can be coordinated from a specific location. The Tactical Operations Center (TOC) is the central area where all of the preparation and communication happens. You know when the rockets are about to fire if you are standing near the area as you will start to hear excited chatter over the radios and finally, “Fire when ready!”
Soldiers are given four rockets and are required to hit a target 9,500 meters away in order to qualify. Normally there are 16 HIMARS that fire four rockets each for qualification. This time, there are only four.
This was a different type of annual training for the 2-300th as most of the Soldiers are either deployed or just coming back from deployment, so the number of soldiers at training is much lower. Because of this, they were able to fire the rest of the rockets, 66 in total, for extra practice between the four HIMARS that were used.
“This is to ensure we are lethal and capable of doing our missions on the battlefield,” says Battalion Operations Officer Maj. Casey Henry. “They’re going through all of their certification processes to ensure that we can deploy and go to war.”
This was the first time the unit fired in this particular location. The unit continued their live-fire training and finished at the end of the week.