In support of the Task Force Spartan mission, Soldiers from the 115th Field Artillery Brigade and 4-133rd Field Artillery Regiment (FAR) participated in multiple bilateral exercises with their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates Land Forces.
Maj. Daniel Long, 115th FAB Intelligence Officer, participates in an after-action review with his Emirati counterpart at Operation Thundercloud.
The exercises, which culminated in a joint High Mobility Artillery Rocket System live fire, spanned the course of several weeks throughout March 2020.
The first, Operation Thundercloud, was a staff exercise dedicated to increasing fire mission interoperability at the battalion level. Participants included staff officers from 115th FAB and 4-133rd FAR, as well as their Emirati counterparts.
Following the conclusion of Thundercloud, 115th FAB and Bravo Battery, 4-133rd FAR participated in the second exercise, Iron Union 13, joining their artillery counterparts in the UAELF for an extended field exercise.
Iron Union 13 included partnership training at the battery level, and validation of fires planning and firing capabilities with both Emirati and US-led classes.
Master Sgt. John Bragg, First Sergeant of Bravo Battery 4-133rd FAR, who attended the exercise, said that the fire direction centers of both countries worked together to ensure timely, safe and accurate fires from each nation.
“The lead-up and execution of this combined live fire exercise proved that the U.S. and UAE could operate in a bilateral capacity,” Bragg said. “We improved capabilities such as fire mission processing, movement of ammunition, and coordination of logistics.”
In the weeks leading up to the joint live-fire, Bravo Battery Soldiers worked hand-in-hand with their Emirati counterparts to share tactics in order to validate capabilities and gain a shared understanding prior to operating in a bilateral environment.
2nd Lt. Grant Howk, Platoon Leader of Bravo Battery 1st Platoon, spent over a month preparing for the exercise with the Emiratis. His platoon met with the UAELF 79th Heavy Rocket Regiment every week to ensure both parties were ready for the live-fire exercise.
During the live-fire event, American and Emirati artillerymen followed a fire mission script involving 15 planned targets. Both nations engaged this shared fire plan while acting as a single unit, which was a first in the history of the exercise.
“From what I saw, all of the crews that worked with us enjoyed the hands-on time. They were enthusiastic to learn how we approach operations from live fires to vehicle maintenance,” Howk said.
“The commander of the 79th wanted to create training for his unit that mirrored the U.S. Army’s training methods. One of our task force’s missions is to develop these kinds of relationships with host nation militaries,” he added.
Lt. Col. Malcolm Warbrick, Commander of 4-133rd FAR and Task Force Deep Strike, was enthusiastic about the results of the exercise.
“Aside from our operational mission, the most important work we do within the region is theater security cooperation,” Warbrick said. “Relationship building and cooperative training have been an emphasis since arriving in theater. This cooperation and the effects of this combined exercise contribute not just to the security of UAE, but to the greater security of the Gulf Region.”
Task Force Spartan is a unique, multi-component organization, made up of active Army and National Guard units, rounded out by U.S. Army Reserve support units.
Through Operation Spartan Shield (OSS), Task Force Spartan maintains a U.S. military posture in Southwest Asia sufficient to strengthen our defense relationships and build partner capacity.
The U.S. forces supporting this Task Force Spartan mission were the 115th Field Artillery Brigade, known as “Cowboy Thunder” from the Wyoming National Guard and the 42nd Infantry Division, from the New York Army National Guard.