Precision Fires Hosts Cooperative Field Artillery Forum

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Story by Rachel Gray on 12/17/2018
The Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems (PFRMS) Project Office hosted the annual Field Artillery Lessons Learned (FALL) Working Group at Redstone Arsenal last month. For three days, U.S. Army and Marine Corps brigade commanders, battalion commanders, and organizations interacting and coordinating fires, convened to discuss communications and maintenance opportunities within the Field Artillery community. The forum objective was to coordinate emerging Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures and address challenges facing the Warfighter. The working group facilitated approximately 80 government, and military personnel to share ideas on future High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) upgrades, as well as speak candidly about needed improvements.

At the working group, Army COL David Lewis, the Training and Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager (TCM) Field Artillery Brigade (FAB)-Division Artillery for the Fires Center of Excellence, briefed on the "State of the Field Artillery." COL Lewis stressed the importance of updating training publications, multi-mission radar developments, and the Modification Table of Organization and Equipment for Launcher Batteries, Battalions, and Division Artillery and Field Artillery Brigades. He spoke on the inception of the Army Futures Command and its positive impact to the TCM and the operational force. COL Lewis remarked that system users and material developers need environments like the FALL working group to deliberate what resources the HIMARS/MLRS Warfighter needs to achieve mission success.
"This working group is a great opportunity for collaboration between the materials developer and the TCM. The TCM is the operational voice and capability developer for the end user, so discussing requirements, opportunities, or the way we employ launchers enables us to support the Warfighter. We are going to take the action items we've identified here and develop solutions."

Army COL Joe Roller, the 18th Field Artillery Brigade Commander, anticipated positive changes resulting from the forum. "As a community, we are committed to the continued critical analysis of where we stand. This kind of open and honest dialogue only improves our contributions, not only to the Army's fight, but for the joint fight we share with our sister branches."

Presentations and discussion topics ranged from HIMARS and MLRS improved armored cab upgrades, developing technology for autonomous vehicles, how to streamline communication technology, manning challenges, and extending range on already impressively long range precision fire munitions. Engaging question and answer sessions frequently occurred and there was no shortage of team troubleshooting. Two group discussions focused heavily on a holistic approach to anti-ship capabilities and increasing the number of qualified HIMARS crews.

USMC 1LT Jacob Rhine from the Fox Battery 2nd Battalion 14th Marines was the most junior officer to attend the working group. He briefed the working group on lessons learned, deployment challenges, and equipment failures on his recent Afghanistan deployment. 1LT Rhine commented that the forum was invaluable to Warfighters of his rank.

"Being the most junior officer in the room and having returned from a combat deployment, this forum was absolutely beneficial for me. Seeing new HIMARS developments and having a chance to speak with leadership on what we need in the field, so we can better prosecute objectives, is promising for both the Field Artillery community and my future."

When asked what he considered to be the biggest takeaway from the working group, 1LT Rhine answered, "Communication. The battle space is getting larger and as we develop as a service, not just the Army but the Marine Corps, we need to have that concise cross talk so we can improve on communications infrastructure."

The general consensus of the working group was positive. Formal presentations and master gunner breakout sessions enabled platoon and leadership personnel to have one-on-one engagements. Attendees also met PFRMS Project Office Managers, Directors, and Logistics personnel who presented future upgrades and planned system concepts. On the working group's final day, Army and Marine Corps users toured the Software Systems Simulation Integration facility on post. The facility tour familiarized the user with what happens behind-the-scenes for the products they employ.

HIMARS and MLRS users, system employers, and material developers anticipate to reconvene at the 2019 FALL Working Group in Ft. Sill, OK. Attendance may grow as leadership requests more Army National Guard and platoon representation.

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