[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         July 25, 2008
Training

Illinois, German field artillery 
units train at Fort McCoy

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 McCoy.

Photo: 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)
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 McCoy.

      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.

Photo: Sgt. 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. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Sgt. 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. 
(Photo 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 environments."

      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 weapons."

      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 howitzers.

      "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," Putnam said.

 

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