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1-9 Field Artillery supports coalition forces with M777s

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The 1st Section, Bravo Battery 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery from Fort Stewart, Ga., have been conducting intensive training and fire missions to support operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

The gunners, based out at Forward Operating Base Hadrian in Deh Rawud district, are two months into their deployment. They are tasked with providing offensive support to Combined Team Uruzgan missions using M777 A2 Howitzers.

Section Chief, Sgt. Christopher Johnson said the group has quickly finetuned their combat role.

“We are doing a pretty good job out here so far. We have been doing a lot of training; we have enhanced our skills and learned a lot since we’ve been here.”

“We’ve been going through the gunners test, and rotating each man through every position on the gun, whether it’s the section chief, gunner or assistant gunner,” Johnson said.

“We make sure we are ready to perform any job that comes our way and to make sure we can do it to the best of our ability, supporting troops out there that need our help,” Pfc. Jarrod Leach said.

“We are trying to support the rest of the troops out here in Uruzgan and keep everybody safe. It’s nice to be out here, especially when there are not too many people back in the United States that have a chance to come out here and do everything they can for our country,” added Leach.

The M777 A2 is a towed 155mm artillery piece that fires High Explosive, Illumination and GPS guided Excalibur rounds. The weapon system was deployed by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to Afghanistan in December 2007 and the Excalibur projectile was first deployed to Afghanistan in March 2008.

The 1st Section are on constant standby to provide support at any time during the day or night to counter direct hostilities or illuminate an area for friendly forces.

“Illum rounds light up the air so troops on the ground can see what’s going on. If they are in contact they actually see where the enemy is at, it helps them out tremendously, so it’s very important that we can get those rounds up as fast as possible,” Johnson said.

The gunners of 1-9 Field Artillery will continue providing their specialist capability until FOB Hadrian is drawn down in mid 2013.

Article by 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division