Paratroopers of the 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, conducted a two-gun raid air assault mission exercise on Fort Bragg, Sept. 13.
The mission required the battalion to conduct sling load operations with three humvees and two M119 howitzers to extend the range of artillery support for the brigade’s maneuver elements.
“We have 20 minutes by the time the bird lands to be operational and shoot fire missions,” said Staff Sgt. Israel Castillo, a section chief for Battery B. “We need to be proficient enough to be able to support the brigade’s needs.”
As CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade touched down in the staging area near Holland Drop Zone, artillerymen rigged their howitzers for the impending mission.
The helicopter crew chiefs checked the rigs and the Falcons boarded the helicopters. The Chinooks then hooked up the tandem loads and flew south toward Campbell Landing Zone.
The Blackhawk landed first, releasing the advance party whose job was to ensure a secure landing zone and mark sites for the following helicopters.
The vehicle and howitzer loads flew in next. One after another the Chinooks set down and released the tandem loads. Once unhooked, the helicopters landed, their tailgate doors opened and the Black Falcons raced down the ramps and to their equipment.
They began unpacking the guns even before the helicopters had taken off again. The crews worked quickly to emplace their guns and await their fire missions.
The Black Falcons also used their lightweight, counter-mortar radar as part of the raid package. Carried off of the helicopter in four cases by a team of fire support specialists, the equipment was assembled before the howitzer teams even received their first fire mission.
The LCMR can track the point of origin and determine the point of impact of enemy indirect fire. Artillery crews can then use that information to return fire.
The LCMR has 10 kilometers of range that can pick up anything coming into the fire point, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Anthony Norwood, a field artillery warrant officer assigned to 2nd Bn., 319th AFAR.
It can transmit information digitally or coordinates can be communicated by radio if there is no digital capability, said Norwood.
With artillery cannons and counter-fire radar established, the crews then received fire missions.
The Black Falcons sprang into action, sending earsplitting round after round into the impact area.
As the smoke drifted away from the landing zone, a paratrooper called out “end of mission,” notifying the crews to stand down and quiet settled over the field.