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Kansas National Guard helps build connection between U.S, Army and Kuwaiti forces

By Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos, 35th Infantry Division October 25, 2017

CAMP BEUHRING, Kuwait -- Officers of the Fires and Effects Coordination Cell for the 75th Field Artillery Brigade and commanding officers of 23rd Multi-launch Rocket System Field Artillery Battalion, Kuwaiti Land Forces (KLF), observed as Soldiers from the Kansas Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery conducted Engagement Angel Strike, Oct. 5.

The Engagement was part of a cooperative endeavor between KLF and the U.S. Army, intended to create a shared understanding of operational methods as well as enhanced interoperability and effectiveness. The exercise also provided Soldiers of the Kansas Army National Guard's Alpha Battery, 2nd Bn., 130th Field Artillery Brigade an opportunity to earn their semi-annual certification and qualification.

Maj. Steven Redmon, fire effects coordination cell officer in charge, and Capt. Robert Hashe, assistant fire support officer, both of the 75th Field Artillery Brigade, hosted members of the KLF command team during the engagement.

"Our goal here is to learn from one another and to enhance our interoperability and teamwork," said Redmon.

Soldiers of the Kansas Army National Guard's 2-130th were well prepared to demonstrate their proficiency to the visiting command teams.

"This was the first time we were able to fully integrate all sections of the battery on one mission," said 1st Sgt. Gerald Gibson, A Battery, 2-130th. "The sections included communications, maintenance, supply, fire direction control, and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System crews."

Both Kuwaiti and American commanders sat under a temporary shade structure in full view to witness the power of the HIMARS, as it sliced through the hot, windy Middle Eastern sky.

"It was excellent. Especially today--the weather was windy; but they conducted the launch and worked easily with the atmosphere," said Col. Salem A. Al-Hosenan, commander, 23rd Multi-launch Rocket System Field Artillery Battalion, KLF. "This was my first opportunity to view the HIMARS. I was impressed by the teamwork, smooth flow, and coordination between the tent and launcher. This crew operates with safety in mind."

Synergy between the operations tent and the HIMARS were evident, as a total of 12 rounds, fired by four different crews made their mark across the mid-day sky.

Interoperability and the exchange of experiences was important to both the KLF and U.S. Soldiers. Al-Hosenan expressed a desire to conduct one or two exercises yearly in order to achieve interoperability from the lowest to highest levels of command.

Gibson also saw value in ensuring high levels of interoperability.

"I feel that this is extremely important as we share a common goal of preparation and readiness," said Gibson. "As we continue to learn the capabilities and way the KLF does business and they learn ours, it makes for a more functional, cohesive multi-national team that is able to deliver accurate and deadly rocket artillery fires."

Soldiers of the Kansas Army National Guard bring with them not only the expertise of their individual military occupational specialties, but a diverse array of civilian professions and educations that complement their service to the U.S. Army.

"A majority of the Soldiers in the battery are members of the rural communities that stretch from western Kansas to the edge of Kansas City," said Hashe. "While serving in the National Guard, many of the Soldiers are sons, daughters, parents, and some are even grandparents. These Citizen-Soldiers not only keep Kansas safe, they are active members in their communities, providing services like farming, construction, engineering, police officers, IT technicians, electricians, windmill technicians, nurses, and even professors."

Alpha Battery encompasses many sections that have come together over the past six months to become the first Kansas National Guard unit since WWII to shoot actual fire missions in a forward deployed environment. According to Hashe, the battery's mission is, 'to provide security to our state and country, to be tactically proficient, and to always be a little better.'

"Some Soldiers have waited more than 20 years for the opportunity to shoot in a forward deployed environment," said Hashe. "This is a historic honor that all members of the A Battery 2-130th will carry with them for a lifetime."

The Kansas Army National Guard unit, Alpha Battery, 2-130th is located in rural Holton, Kansas, 35 miles north of Topeka. The battery's 119 Soldiers live in areas that span the state of Kansas.

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