Troops Certify with Howitzers for Afghan Deployment
Story by: Major Benjamin Tupper - 42nd Infantry Division Dated: Mon, Jun 20, 2011
Pvt. Danielle C. Powe, an artilleryman with Battery A, 1st Battalion 258th Field Artillery, yanks the lanyard of a M-198 howitzer, blasting 100 lbs. of high explosives down range during the battalion’s certification at Fort Drum, N.Y. June 20, 2011. The battalion is part of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and will be deploying to Afghanistan early 2012. Photo by Master Sgt. Peter Towse, 42nd Infantry Division.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- When most people think of the ”Bronx Bombers”, pinstripes and baseball gloves come to mind.
But don’t tell that to Bronx native and New York Army National Guard Sgt. Tomas Couvertier, a member of Battery A, 258th Field Artillery.
He and his squad members sport a different uniform, one that features digital camouflage and the patch of the 27th Brigade Combat Team instead of pinstripes. And when Battery A takes the field, their equipment packs a bigger punch than the bats of any professional baseball team.
Sgt. Couvertier, alongside his battery mates from New York City and Long Island, conducted a live fire exercise on June 20th with an impressive piece of equipment: the M-198 Howitzer. After completing a nine day certification process under the supervision of artillery specialists from Fort Sill, Battery A fired, for the first time, the M-198 Howitzer.
By training on this artillery piece, Soldiers of the battery were able to further hone their combat skills in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Battery A, under the command of Capt. Liam Brennan, will deploy and provide artillery support for the rest of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, as these New York Army National Guard units conduct their missions in Afghanistan.
The M-198 Howitzer, while new to the 258th Field Artillery, is not new to the Army’s inventory. The artillery piece was first introduced in the late 1970’s, and has seen service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four M-198s howitzers were loaned to the 258th from the Missouri National Guard for this nine day training certification conducted at Fort Drum.
While soldiers from Battery A fired only 155mm high explosive rounds during their certification, the piece is capable of firing a wide range of munitions, like illumination, smoke, and white phosphorus.
As part of their training and certification, battery Soldiers received fire missions from forward observers with the 2nd Battalion, 108 Infantry, one of the maneuver elements of the 27th Brigade Combat Team. The battery fired high angle and low angle fire missions, and completed the certification process by conducting a disassemble drill, allowing the artillery piece to be towed away for its next mission.