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'Diamond' Brigade 'creates the thunder' during III Corps Warfighter ramp up

May 2, 2012

FORT HOOD, Texas -- More than 40 Soldiers assigned to the 75th 'Diamond' Fires Brigade out of Fort Sill, Okla. participated in the III Corps Warfighter ramp up held here April 22 to May 5 where they served as the force field artillery headquarters for a multi-national division.

The III Corps Warfighter ramp up is a digital exercise that simulates a unified land operation mission to validate the systems and processes throughout its organization.

During the exercise, the 75th Fires Bde. was tasked to ensure the division commander's direction for artillery is implemented throughout the battle space, manage enemy artillery plans and adjust the commander's artillery plan as needed.

"We're excited to be able to perform this mission right now," said Maj. Jeffrey Rhodes, 75th Fires Bde. chief of operations.

"It's incumbent upon us to provide the first-class fire support our senior headquarters deserves while exercising our ability to 'create the thunder' on an enemy target," he said.

The 75th Fires Bde. features a robust artillery force including the Army's Paladin self-propelled howitzer and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, as well as counterfire radars, explained Rhodes.

As a forward observer assigned to the 75th Fires Bde., Pfc. Tanner Brown would be responsible for reporting the impact of the 'Diamond' artillery.

"This exercise has given me a much better idea of the process behind sending rounds downrange," said Tanner. "I've been able to see what [fires command and control senior leaders] are doing, what they're going through and know what they're waiting on."

In addition to exercising processes, the III Corps Warfighter ramp up serves as a pre-combat rehearsal for digital systems found within a unit.

The 75th Fires Bde. has four digital systems that contribute to its higher headquarter mission: the Command Post of the Future, Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, Distributed Common Ground System (Army) and Logistics Federation system.

Soldiers participating in the exercise were able to operate the systems and crosstrain with other specialists from within the unit to ensure fluidity throughout their mission, said Rhodes.

The digital exercise was conducted through these systems, but also generated in a written format.

"The batteries on a map never go out," said Rhodes.

But the exercise was not without some challenges.

"Many of the Soldiers who participated in the exercise found it challenging to jump into a fully fledged battle even though it was simulated," said Cpt. David Anaya, 75th Fires Bde. Air Defense Airspace Management manager.

"The past decade of combat operations gave us a platform for ground operations but in the future, this might not be the case," he said.

Exercises, like Warfighter, could very well shape our future missions by proving the capabilities the 'Diamond' Brigade brings to the fight, said Anaya.

"The next time that [we] deploy as a brigade, we may very well be performing a mission under similar conditions to this exercise," added Rhodes. "It is critical that we train as we fight and think about the problems that we will encounter when we're working with units we don't normally train with."

Rhodes said that the brigade is eager to return for the III Corps Warfighter exercise slated next month.

"The past two weeks have given us the opportunity to smooth out as many wrinkles as we can," he said. "I am confident that we will be able to train as realistically as we can without heading to the battlefield."

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