As part of Victory Week celebrations,
Soldiers with the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team and other units conducted a
combined arms livefire exercise June 11 at Fort Riley. While an audience of hundreds
of Flint Hills leaders and Fort Riley community partners looked on, some of the
Army’s most advanced equipment shook the ground.
Guests also were guided around
various static displays manned by 1st Inf. Div. Soldiers, prior to the
beginning of the live-fire exercise.
The event was a way of reaching
out to local partners in gratitude for their support of Fort Riley, as well as
an opportunity to show, first-hand, what Soldiers do on a day-to-day basis
within the post’s training areas.
“It’s amazing, and I think that
this is a great opportunity for the communities that surround Fort Riley to
take that opportunity to come and see what the Army does,” said Ligia Paquette,
retired teacher, Lady Trooper and Distinguished Trooper from Junction City. “I
think if they know a little bit more about what Fort Riley is – they would be
even more supportive – they’ll know why all the shooting goes on out here.”
The focus of the exercise was
the reduction and capture of two objectives – one representing an urban area
and another representing a cluster of enemy forces. Soldiers with the 1st
Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. used M1A2 Abrams tanks
and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, along with a dismounted squad, to seize the
urban objective. Paladin howitzer crews with the 1st Battalion, 7th Field
Artillery Regiment provided indirect fire support.
“We took ground and aerial platforms,
all of our weapons systems, and conducted a deliberate assault, a clearance and
a breach clearance to seize the final objective,” said Maj. Brandon Cave,
operations officer, 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt.
Those aerial platforms
included both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, he said.
“OH-58D Kiowa helicopters were
flying in support of (ground forces), and we brought in a flight of A-10 Warthogs
from the Air Force,” Cave added.
As the audience watched, they
also were able to hear the discussions going on between commanders in the rear
and the Soldiers on the ground via speakers that amplified tactical radio
communications, which Cave said enhanced their experience.
“What it was trying to get the
audience to understand a little bit of the complexity that goes on behind the
scenes,” he said. “If you just watch the vehicles, you can see them shoot, move
and hit these targets, (but) what is not apparent is the crews’ coordination
with the commander as they move down the battlefield.”
The combined effect was impressive,
said one guest, a Korean War veteran.
“Everything was great, it’s
just unbelievable the firepower now compared to what we had,” Bob Neitzel,
whose cousin was recently posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for service
in the 1st Inf. Div. “Those (A-10) Warthogs are awesome.”
Other veterans in
“The rapid fire and the amount
of firepower the Bradleys can bring to bear quickly was impressive,” said Byron
Alexander, a member of the Manhattan Military Affairs Council. “The Abrams
(tanks) are impressive, too.”
Alexander’s fellow MAC member,
Gene Klingler, said the exercise and the event in general was a good way to
interact with individual Soldiers.
“We talked to one Soldier. It
was a joy talking to him, learning about him and where he’d been and the like,”
he said. “These Soldiers are not only part of the fabric of our nation, but
certainly what they contribute to Kansas, Junction City and Manhattan is just
fantastic, and it’s a pleasure to get to know them and their families.”