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NEWS | May 31, 2023

Pennsylvania Guard Takes Part in African Lion 23 in Tunisia

By 1st Sgt. HollyAnn Nicom, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa

BEN GHILOUF, Tunisia – Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers from C Battery, 1-107th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, are in Tunisia to take part in African Lion 23, U.S. Africa Command’s largest annual combined, joint exercise.

Eighteen nations and approximately 8,000 personnel will participate in AL23 in multiple countries from May 13 to June 18.

The exercise brings U.S. participants from across the joint force, including the Reserve and National Guard, to increase interoperability during crises and to bolster security and stability in the region. 

“African Lion gives us the opportunity to conduct joint fires, both land-based artillery and aircraft,” said Maj. Kurt Shingledecker, battalion executive officer for 1-107th Field Artillery. “This has been a good opportunity for us to synchronize fires in a combined arms environment, as well as a multinational environment.”

By training together, the U.S. military, its partners and allies get the repetitions needed to fight and win together on the modern battlefield to enhance regional security and readiness to deploy, fight and win in a complex, multi-domain environment. Exercises like AL 23 have a lasting and sustained impact on shared defense capabilities between U.S. and partner forces.

C Battery has a unique structure as a composite battery comprising two weapons systems, the M119 and M777 howitzers, along with all the personnel and equipment to support the safe, realistic operations of a battery in an austere desert environment. Every Soldier contributes to daily collaborative missions while positioned next to their Tunisian partners.

“The M777s can shoot farther and have a lot more impact and can do a lot more destruction if they need to, while the smaller howitzers [M119s] have the benefit of moving a lot faster,” said Capt. Richard Fry, C Battery commander. “They can shoot and get out of there before any type of counterfire, which allows us to do a long fight and a short fight at a battery level.”

AL 23 integrates a full array of mission capabilities to strengthen interoperability among U.S. and partner nations and set the theater for strategic access.

“Howitzers can fight anytime and anywhere to help shape the maneuver commander’s fight,” said Shingledecker. “We bring a responsiveness that is able to help successfully complete the mission.”

During AL 23, Soldiers from 1-107th fire side-by-side with their Tunisian counterparts as part of a combined arms, live-fire exercise.

“That is a huge morale bump for my Soldiers,” said Shingledecker. “We’re building that interoperability with our Tunisian partners and our capacity to conduct live-fire operations so they can see how we do things, and we can potentially learn from them how they conduct field artillery operations.”

Events like this are only possible with the total force contributions of National Guard and Reserve service members. 



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