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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Blue skies and cool weather surrounded the open airfield as the C-17 aircraft prepared to land. After an hour of low altitude maneuvers, the tailgate to the aircraft opened, revealing two High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems ready to offload. Once they were cleared, Soldiers maneuvered themselves into a fighting position, waiting for their first fire mission.
Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th FA Bde., conducted a HIMARS Rapid Infiltration simulated fire exercise as part of Thunder Rain, at the Grant County International Airport, Moses Lake, Wash., June 22.
The joint force training exercise allowed both the Air Force and Army to execute realistic training that would require rapid movement and deployment of the long-range weapon system.
“We utilize the Air Force, whether it’s a C-17 or C-130, to put us forward and engage targets long range down the road,” said 1st Lt. Kade Smith, platoon leader from the 5-3rd FAR. “It is very important to do this along with them because not only does it helps us with our training, it also assists them in theirs.”
Shortly after takeoff, the crew went through a low altitude maneuver exercise. It allowed the C-17 crewmembers to execute movements as they would in a combat environment. As soon as the aircraft landed, Soldiers jumped into their vehicles, preparing to simulate a rapid fires engagement.
“This HI-RAIN exercise allowed us to practice moving across the battlefield quickly and move ahead of a forward line of troops and engage targets,” said Smith. “It reduced the number of line troops we need down range and allowed us to deliver effective fires from a maneuvering position.”
The training gave young Soldiers an understanding what it’s like to be able to move the system quickly and effectively.
“This is the concept of the HIMARS,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Wiesner, a crew chief in Smith’s Platoon. “You have to be able to load it onto a bird, push forward and fire. You have to have fully trained crew.”
Although the training was not new to the battalion, it was new for some of the Soldiers like Smith. Aside from all the maneuvering and operating of the vehicles, Soldiers had the opportunity to work in a joint environment.
“You had to be willing to do things differently in a joint environment,” said Wiesner. “You had to learn to be flexible when working with different services because things are done differently.”
Even though Smith and his team do not practice this particular exercise very often, they continued to familiarize themselves with the concepts of loading and offloading the equipment and conducted monthly training with the Air Force.
“We do this every other month, so we don’t have any hiccups when we actually do it,” he said. “We worked on our speed to make sure we could load on and off in a matter of time.”
Working with the Air Force to conduct the training will continue to be a valuable asset to Wiesner and his team. Although the environment may change, he knew some things would always remain the same.
“We need the training, HIMARS RAIN is an awesome tool to have in the battlefield,” said Wiesner. “We just have to grow and learn together with the sister forces.”
Video Description Credit: Sgt. Eliverto Larios
Video Credits: Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Taranto and Staff Sgt. Mike Lahrman
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