CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. – The 1-147 Field Artillery Battalion from South Dakota conducted a two-week annual training at Camp Ripley Training Center.
The goal of the unit, which uses the M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System, was to practice delivering long-range precision fire accurately and on time.
"Our mission is to deliver precision long-range fire on the enemy both near or far. We can shoot from up close to all the way up to 300 kilometers if need be," said Sgt. First Class Aaron Walberg, a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System crewmember and the master gunner for the unit.
The master gunner in a field artillery unit plans and assists the battery commanders with unit table certifications and qualifications, which is what the 1-147 is completing in Minnesota.
"The whole mission during this AT is to come as an artillery battalion and to exercise our MATS, get out and exercise our equipment and to get crew familiarity because there's always changeover with crews," Walberg said. "So you got to get that crew cohesion through the tables, and then you culminate it with the table six, which is our crew qualifications. That's where we get to fire the live rounds. That's kind of the big event for the battalion every year."
During the two weeks of training, the Soldiers of the 1-147 remained downrange most of the time. The unit completed multiple training events that led up to one large M270A1 Rocket Launcher live-fire July 20.
This annual training was more important than the past two as all of the batteries within the battalion are home from deployments and can train together.
"So this year is a little different. We haven't had a battalion-level exercise like this in about three years," Walberg said.
It's important for crewmembers to get some live practice with their vehicles.
"It's a perishable skill. When you haven't been on the equipment a few years and haven't gotten out as a battalion, it takes a little time to get that flow back," Walberg said.
Besides training with the M279A1s, the Soldiers of the 1-147 completed multiple weapons qualifications with the M4A1 and M16 rifles, the 50-caliber and M240 machine gun, and the MK-19 grenade launcher.
"It's just overall to exercise all of this equipment, to get familiarity, and to get troops spun up on things and to make sure they're ready to go and that they know how to do their job and how to handle their stuff and be proficient on it," Walberg said.