Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has said that readiness is the Army’s No. 1 priority. There is no other No. 1.
Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, proved they are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice during their radar certification exercise that began Aug. 7 and concluded Tuesday.
Standard radar certification includes written examinations and practical exercises, culminating in tracking live rounds, according to Lt. Col. Bernard House, 3-6 FA commander.
The Centaur Soldiers took things a step further during this exercise, as they practiced preparing and deploying not just themselves, but also the radars that are so important to protecting troops from indirect fire.
“These radars are the focal piece of equipment for counter-fire,” House said. “The additional realism of putting the Soldiers through a deployment scenario takes this training above and beyond the norm for certification.”
The exercise started on Aug. 7 as the Soldiers were notified of a mission to deploy their radars to Africa. Soldiers spent that afternoon inspecting personal equipment and packing for the trip.
Aug. 8 saw the Soldiers preparing for deployment by ensuring all of their administrative, medical and personal affairs were in order, also known as Soldier Readiness Processing. On Aug. 9, they loaded their radar equipment onto a Connecticut Air National Guard C-130 Hercules at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. At a dirt landing strip out on one of Fort Drum’s many training areas, the Centaur Soldiers then sling loaded the equipment beneath UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters that took them to their emplacements, simulating a deployment environment.
The radar section defended their positions from opposing forces that attacked them with small-arms fire, including snipers, throughout the exercise.
Elements of the 7th Brigade Engineer Battalion dug the radar section’s fighting equipment while crews from C Battery, 3-6 FA, provided the live fire for them to track.
“The air-assault mission was awesome,” said Spc. Christopher Bender, a radar operator with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery. “I definitely plan on going to Air Assault School.”
Recently redeployed from Iraq, Bender noted the importance of being able to take the equipment to an austere environment.
“It shows that we can go a step further than just operating the equipment,” he said.
Capt. Jacques Roulette, HHB commander, agreed on the importance of the training, saying that the first 24 hours were difficult but rewarding.
“We learned a lot,” he said. “If we got that call for real, we know we would be able to accomplish the mission.”