US 10th Mountain Division service members train with HIMARS

U.S. 10th Mountain Division’s annual Summit Strike, a division-level exercise designed to train Army and Air Force partners as well as subordinate maneuver units, kicked off early April.

US 10th Mountain Division service members train with HIMARS
Soldiers prepare to fire the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) during exercise Summit Strike, which is a culminating training event for the 10th Mountain Division (LI) at Fort Drum, New York, 9 April 2019 (Picture source: U.S. Army / Staff Sgt. Michael Reinsch)

The exercise trains Soldiers and Airmen to use aerial intelligence to call in precision artillery strikes, which are supported by ground troops. They’re also trained in managing combat airspace and owning the electromagnetic domain. “We executed a division-level exercise that is designed to showcase the division’s ability to integrate surface fires, air fires, and electronic warfare assets in high-intensity conflict,” said Maj. Brian Dermody, 10th Mountain Division Artillery executive officer. “We have incorporated assets from the Army and the Air Force to train our organization with live fires in order to better prepare ourselves to fight against an enemy with these exact actions in combat.”

More than 400 service members from Fort Drum participated in the training. Soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina added support by operating the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS. The M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) is a multiple rocket launcher system mounted on a 6x6 FMTV truck chassis. HIMARS was developed by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control under an advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD) programme, placed in 1996. The purpose of the HIMARS is to engage and defeat artillery, air defense concentrations, trucks, light armor and personnel carriers, as well as support troop and supply concentrations.
Offering Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) firepower on a wheeled chassis, the HIMARS carries a single six-pack of rockets or one ATACMS missile on the Army's new Family of FMTV 5-ton truck. HIMARS is operated by a crew of three - driver, gunner and section chief - but the computer-based fire control system enables a crew of two or even a single soldier to load and unload the system.

HIMARS received approval to enter production in March 2003 and is currently in Full Rate Production. HIMARS successfully completed initial operational test and evaluation in November 2004. In May 2005, the 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery was the first unit equipped with HIMARS. HIMARS has been a joint system since 2000 when the U.S. Marine Corps joined the program. It was successfully combat-tested in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Commenting the above-mentioned exercise, Maj. Brian Dermody, 10th Mountain Division Artillery executive officer, said that “This allows us to put what we’ve trained up for in the last three exercises into play with real assets, real pilots, real artillery pieces firing live rounds and live rockets. This training gives us confidence in our equipment and confidence in our procedures so we are capable of doing this when the time arises.”

Not only does this event train the Soldiers on the ground, but it also gives the division the opportunity to train those who see the battlefield from a birds-eye view.
“This event allows us to train our division staff, our Division Artillery, our combat aviation brigade as well as our Air Force partners to employ all of these assets in a live scenario in preparation for combat operations,” said Dermody.

For every unit in the military, it’s important to ensure Soldiers and other service members are prepared for any call to action. As battlefields evolve over time, service members have to stay up to date on how to fight in those battle spaces.

“Today’s battlefield requires Army forces to penetrate cyberspace-electromagnetic defenses, locate concealed enemy systems, and fight artillery forward in order to mass precision fires from both the air and the ground, all while maintaining relentless tempo in order to shatter the enemy’s will,” said Walter E. Piatt, the commanding general of 10th Mountain Division.

For Dermody, this was a unique opportunity not only for him but also for the Soldiers in his unit. And, after seeing his unit and the other service members involved, he’s confident in their abilities. f“The division as a whole and a lot of the lead planners for this exercise have done a phenomenal job and executed this training flawlessly,” said Dermody.