Gun Devils of 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, made history here, April 19, by being the first operational unit in the Army to field and fire the new all-digital M119A3 105 mm lightweight howitzer.
During the validation exercise 16 gun sections, assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, validated the weapon systems and proved their proficiency gained from two weeks of intensive operator-level training.
“This is the first time in history this has happened — it’s significant,” said Maj. Hugh E. Sollom, a Stafford, Va., native who serves as the Gun Devils’ operations officer. “We’re taking a step up in terms of our use of technology in order to provide more accurate and responsive fires to the maneuver forces.”
Spc. Charles L. Green, a native of Potter, Neb., and an artilleryman with Battery A, agreed.
“It’s a big step in the Army. We’re always moving forward,” he said. “To finally have light artillery be electronic, it’s a really big step. It quickens the time (in which) we can shoot.”
Pfc. Andrew M. Spilman, an artilleryman with Battery B, said there was no greater feeling than firing the howitzer. The Reno, Nev., native was a member of the first crew to send a round from the M119A3 onto the impact area.
“Being the first unit in the Army to actually have these and fire them is history in the making,” Spilman said.
The Gun Devils will continue the fielding of the new howitzer by conducting individual- and section-level certifications, and by executing live-fire exercises aimed at honing tactics, techniques and procedures, Sollom said.