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Utah Guard members enhance urban fighting skills

By Spc. Joshua Morris | U.S. Army | March 6, 2018

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Utah National Guard's Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery Regiment had an opportunity to get out from behind their cannons and prove themselves on other battlefield tasks during a complex training exercise Feb. 28 near Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

"We're usually field artillerymen, so we're used to being the guys supporting the guys doing this," said Spc. Matthew Miyasaki, a cannon crewmember with Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery Regiment. "So actually getting in their boots and doing whatever they do gives us a better picture on both ends of the battlefield."

After eight weeks of training in the field, Delta Battery executed Operation Diamond Strike, an exercise testing the Soldiers' combat skills in urban terrain. The objective of the operation was to infiltrate a simulated local populace and locate an informant who would subsequently give the whereabouts of a high value target.

After securing a landing zone for two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to land, the artillerymen were picked up and inserted into a location close to the village they needed to infiltrate. Immediately the squads got to work on their objective.

Three squad leaders directed their teams in accordance to their element's respective role of assault, support, or security.

As they made haste toward the village, the battery prepared to fall back on every skill they learned during the previous weeks of training. Not all of the training was combat-oriented.

"The hearts-and-minds aspect helps us out because it limits the amount of hostiles that we would engage with and the amount of negative reception that we would have on the United States Army moving into an operation," said Miyasaki. "So giving a good American presence within whatever our area of operation is would give us a smoother and more precise way of pinpointing where we could target the enemy."

Keeping this training in mind, the artillerymen proceeded with caution upon entering the village. After making contact, however, the squads received enemy fire. Within moments, the training from weeks prior kicked in during the ensuing action.

The Soldiers dispersed smoke and chemical gas, deployed suppressive fire, dawned masks, and finally detained an informant. Quickly after, the high-value targets were captured and the operation was completed.

Capt. Kyle Rawlinson, 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery Regiment's executive officer, was there to watch his troops maneuver through the urban terrain.

"This is everything that we'd be doing in our combat role," Rawlinson said. "The main thing that we are trying to get is sustainment training on their [crew-served machine guns and other] weapons."

Not only is training like this effective for the Soldiers to have internally, but Rawlinson believes that this training will help with joint operations.

"The training value of an event like this is a combined arms when we are working with other units," he said. "What I hope third platoon learned out of this training event is [urban terrain] tactics and also small-unit tactics, moving as a unit, working at both squads and platoon levels."