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Fort Bragg paratroopers brave weather for training exercise

Oct 23, 2009

By Spc. Jessica M. Kuhn/49th PAD

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - For many living and working in the area, last Wednesday's cold and rainy forecast might have kept them at home or in a warm and dry place.

Despite the inclement weather, Soldiers from the 18th Fires Brigade evaluated paratroopers from 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, as they conducted a battery training exercise in the densely wooded hills of Fort Bragg.

"We are here doing our battery evaluation which consists of different types of infantry movements and also several types of maneuvering capabilities with the howitzers," said Sgt. Cody Anderson, a 2nd Bn., 319th AFAR, 82nd Abn. Div. paratrooper.

Meanwhile, Soldiers from the 18th Fires Bde., were there to support and help reassure the success of the field artillery airborne operations.

"Basically we are observing how the Soldiers lay the howitzer in preparation of firing the weapon," said Master Sgt. Anthony Smith, an observer from 18th Fires Bde. "Proper crew drills, sight checks and ensuring the chief checks the gunner are all vital roles in the prepping of the howitzer."

The exercise began with the howitzers followed by the paratroopers parachuting into Holland Drop Zone, where, within an hour, they were receiving their first firing missions.

However, before each howitzer could fire, it had to be taken off its platform and moved into the right position.

"Say you're moving the howitzer from point A to point B, you have to be as fast and smooth as possible; ready to shoot if there is an imminent threat from the enemy," said Sgt. Jonathan Crea, an observer from 18th Fires Bde.

Unlike land navigation, where you can read a map and use terrain features to find your destination, the howitzer is oriented completely off the azimuth, giving the weapon a more accurate aim, explained Staff Sgt. Antonio Alvarado, a 2nd Bn., 319th AFAR, 82nd Abn. Div. paratrooper.

"We have to act quickly, when we are down range and when the enemy strikes all we have to rely on is our training and preparation," said Anderson, a native of Prarieville, La.

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