Soldiers participate in Op Jaded Thunder
A crew with the 2nd Platoon, 1st Bn., 5th FA Regt., fires in the early morning hours on June 17 in Salina, Kan. A multi-service exercise took place at Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range and focused on integration and de-confliction of both air support and surface-to-surface fires. Photo by: Maj. David Ward, 1ST BN. 5TH FA REGT.
Story by: 1LT Carolyn Vandeventer-Lotspeich
541st CSSB HHC PAO
Story by: 1st Lt. Kenneth Vilaysone, 1ST BN., 5TH FA REGT.
SALINA, Kan. – About 42 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division along with four howitzers and one fire direction center deployed June 11 to 20 to Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range at the Great Plains Joint Training Center.
"We were given an opportunity to show what a four-gun platoon could bring to a joint exercise that primarily focused on air assets," said Capt. William Ivins, commander, Battery A.
Operation Jaded Thunder was an exercise that focused primarily on Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers certifications. This annual live-fire exercise allows JTAC personnel an opportunity to direct the actions of combat aircraft engaged in close-air support and other offensive air operations in the ground commander's operational area.
Participating in Operation Jaded Thunder gave 2nd Platoon Soldiers with no deployment experience an opportunity to work in a deployed environment with service members from other branches, said Sgt. First Class Kenzel Chilton, senior noncommissioned officer, 2nd Pltn.
"At the start, it seemed as though the guns might be used in a less than effective and kinetic manner, but, by the end, the fire direction center was receiving on-call missions for targets of opportunity," said 1st Lt. Paul Severni, fire direction officer.
During the exercise, 2nd Pltn. fired more than 350 rounds and was credited for having effects on target while providing indirect fire support and helping the JTACs incorporate surface fires into their support plan.
"Until Jaded Thunder, the last time any unit fired artillery at Smokey Hill was during the Korean War, making (Btry. A) the first artillery unit to fire in Salina in more than 50 years," said Col. Jeffry Jordan, commander, 184th Wing, Kansas Air National Guard.
By the second week, Btry. A received all forms of calls for fire from the JTAC observers, including non-standard or "non-doctrinal" calls for fire. In addition to processing the fire missions, the platoon's fire direction center took the opportunity to instruct untrained observers on the proper procedure transmitting a call for fire.
The gap in time added historical significance to the city of Salina and Smoky Hill, as well as to the history of Btry. A and the battalion's faithful dedication to service, Jordan said.
"Opportunities like Jaded Thunder are rare and add to the special mystique and experience of being an artilleryman and platoon leader," Severni said.