By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff
Members of an Illinois Army National Guard field artillery unit
completed their 2008 home-and-home training exchange with a German
field artillery unit during a July 12-26 training session at Fort
Personnel from the Charlie
Battery of the 2nd, 123rd Field Artillery of the Illinois Army
National Guard do a dry run while waiting for a mission at a
Fort McCoy firing point.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
American Soldiers from the 2nd, 123rd Field Artillery went to
Muenster, Germany in June.
Capt. Jeramy Miles, the commander of Alpha Battery of the 2nd,
123rd who was a member of the American contingent that went to
Germany, said the personnel observed the Germans doing their training.
The unit is the Panzer Artillery Battalion 75 (M.A.).
The exchange sessions were sponsored and arranged by the Small
Unit Exchange, Joint Forces Headquarters program, through a National
Guard partnership under the National Guard Bureau.
Many of the American personnel who trained in Germany as part
of the exchange also participated in the July training session at Fort
Miles said the highlights of the training in Germany included
firing German soldiers' rifles, pistols and machine guns.
The Americans also visited various cultural attractions in
Hamburg and Berlin, he said.
"The training gave us an intrinsic knowledge of their
howitzer weapons," Miles said.
At Fort McCoy, the German soldiers were scheduled to be a part
of a battery shooting formation, load and fire weapons and make a
cultural visit to Illinois, including Chicago.
1st Class Greg Jones from the 2nd, 123rd Field Artillery briefs
German soldiers Capt. Torbin Butchereit and 1st Sgt. Andy Priebe
about the 2nd, 123rd's status board.
by Rob Schuette)
"We could see each other's training facilities and
exchange notes," Miles said. "The exchange is a means to
gain new perspective from different countries operations and field
Capt. Torbin Butchereit, the chief of a German field artillery
battery for his unit, said the training also gave the German officers
a chance to know their American colleagues.
"Some personnel have never fired this artillery system so
it was very good for them," Butchereit said. "The training
area at Fort McCoy is very big" compared to a German site.
1st Sgt. Andy Priebe of the German unit said their soldiers
were looking forward to the training.
"Most of us could not possibly do this in the past,"
Priebe said. "It's very interesting to fire the normal hand
Personnel from the 2nd, 123rd also appreciated the opportunity
to fire the unit's 155 mm towed howitzer at Fort McCoy.
In addition to howitzer training, unit members fired a number
of crew-served weapons, including the M-203 grenade launcher, the M-2
.50-caliber machine gun and the M-16 rifle, among others.
Spc. Sam Caracci, a Charlie Battery gunner, said the training
at Fort McCoy gave new unit personnel an opportunity to fire the
"This is a nice place to fire," Caracci said.
"We can go all the way through with the mission, unlike if we
were at our home station near Chicago."
Pvt. Deron Austin, a cannoneer with the 2nd, 123rd, said the
extended combat training session (ECT) was a good follow-up to
Advanced Individual Training, which he had just completed.
Spc. Jim Feehan, a driver with the 2nd, 123rd, said the terrain
made it a challenge to complete his mission.
"I had never driven a five-ton truck with a
howitzer," Feehan said. "The important part is to get it in
as straight as you can. That makes it easier to make a fast move to
the next place."
2nd Lt. David Putnam, the Executive Officer and Fire Direction
Officer for Charlie Battery, said a good part of the ECT was doing a
number of howitzer-firing missions.
"Things get progressively better with each mission,"