ORCHARD COMBAT TRAINING CENTER, Idaho –
In the fight, when Soldiers need air, mortar, or artillery support, the element they turn to is the fire support team. Known as “FiST,” the fire support team is a small group of artillery Soldiers who provide expert-level control of indirect fire and air support assets by observing where the rounds impact and correcting those rounds properly onto enemy targets.
Fire support teams from 1st Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment of the North Carolina National Guard provided fire support to National Guard units from four different states during Western Strike 22 throughout the month of June 2022 at Orchard Combat Training Center near Boise, Idaho. Western Strike 22 is an eXportable Combat Training Capabilities exercise led by the 65th Field Artillery Brigade, Utah National Guard, that provides National Guard Soldiers immersed training to increase participating unit's readiness and lethality.
“The fire support team is a very lethal asset,” said Cpl. Joshua Morris, a forward observer with the 1-113th FiST. “Our motto is ‘the eyes of the battlefield,’ we observe everything including mortars, artillery, fixed and rotary winged aircraft, and even naval gunfire.”
The 1-113th FiST provided reconnaissance and fire support for cannon artillery from the 65th FAB and also provided fire support for 5th Battalion, 113th FAR, for its high mobility artillery rocket systems, which are also known as HIMARS.
The HIMARS is a multiple launch rocket system that is mounted onto a military truck frame. The rockets employed at Western Strike 22 were armed and operated by artillery Soldiers of the North Carolina National Guard.
The exercise conducted at Orchard Training Combat Center serves as a rare opportunity for Soldiers of different areas of expertise to demonstrate their capabilities in a unique, realistic training environment.
“A lot of the time our training has to be done on a two-dimensional screen, which isn’t nearly as realistic as events like this,” said Pfc. Zachary Godfrey, a radio telephone operator with the 1-113th FiST. “It’s really nice to have the opportunity to come out here and observe real rounds down range as opposed to the classroom.”
The fire support provided by the 1-113th FiST proved to be a critical component of Western Strike 22. As artillery units fired nearly 3,000 rounds over the 14-day training period, the 1-13th FiST provided flawless control and displayed themselves worthy of the title, “The Eyes of the Battlefield”.