Poland hosts US led Dynamic Front artillery exercise for the first time

Sounds of artillery hitting the impact area, a mere 1,000 meters from an observation point where forward observers are staged, shake the ground and echoes through the air throughout the day as fire missions are called in during Dynamic Front 2019 in Torun, Poland, March 4-8. Spc. Christina Westover, 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element, reports on DVIDS.

Poland hosts US led Dynamic Front artillery exercise for the first time
Capt. David Freeman, a squadron fire support officer with the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of Vicenza, Italy, works with a soldier from the Czech Republic to operate a lightweight laser designator rangefinder during Dynamic Front 2019 in Torun, Poland, Mar. 6, 2019. (Picture source: U.S. Army  Spc. Christina Westover)

Exercise Dynamic Front 19 is a multinational exercise conducted by the U.S. Army in Europe designed to improve allied and partner nations ability to deliver long-range fires capabilities. Soldiers from the United States, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic start their mornings side by side, building camaraderie in a field environment and training to improve their communications and fires capabilities.

This is the first time that Dynamic Front has been executed in Poland, with approximately 500 troops participating in this field exercise in Poland. “Any opportunity that we have to integrate with our partners and exercise our digital systems are extremely important here in Europe,” said Maj. Justin Thorkildsen, the brigade fire support officer for the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. “This time, we have the opportunity to operate new systems that we haven’t before and really focus on the integration of digital systems.”

The exercise is designed to increase readiness and interoperability by exercising allied and partner nations' ability to integrate joint fires in a multinational environment at both the operational and tactical levels. “Specifically, during this exercise we are focusing solely on the field artillery and shooting,” said Thorkildsen.

The U.S. forces here are using 105mm M101A1 Howitzers, the Polish forces are using rocket launchers, and the Slovakian and Czech Republic are using M109 155mm self-propelled Howitzers to participate in this exercise, delivering long-range fires capabilities. “This gives us an opportunity to figure out what areas we can improve on and gives us a chance to see how the other nations operate and do fire missions,” said Maj. Jan Hric, the Slovakian liaison working with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. “We learn and improve with each mission.”

This exercise provides an intense, realistic training environment that takes advantage of U.S. Army Europe’s unique training resources to seamlessly coordinate fires in support of U.S. and allied operations. “We’re receiving fire missions digitally, both from higher located back in Germany, as well as fire missions from out in our various observation points located near the impact areas,” said Thorkildsen. “As we receive these missions, as well as our national partners, we are processing those fire missions, creating firing data, and processing it down to the gunline and actually shooting those missions with live ammunition.”

There are approximately 3,200 participants in this exercise across Europe with over 100 artillery systems from participating countries. “Since day one, we’ve been out here with the Polish army and the Slovakian army, at one of the observation points, integrating our forward observers with theirs to see how their digital platforms work, and also teaching them how we do things,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary McCarroll, a joint fires observer with the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team out of Vicenza, Italy.

The Soldiers work, eat, and sleep in the same vicinity, building bonds for future relationships. “The other nations are extremely competent at their job,” said Thorkildsen. “It’s great motivation for us to be able to work with our NATO partners and allies, side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, and learn from them just as they are learning from us.”