alpha battery

Vet Tales, a-woo-o!

When my husband and I were in Korea, we had a number of field exercises. That is, war games simulating tactical environments in which we actively pretended to do our war time jobs. We were missile defense, you see, and there aren’t generally a lot of missiles flying around, so make believe was necessary.

We could have a field exercise about once a month, though at least once we had two in one month. They tended to last for between five days to two weeks, though we sometimes had to extend due to personal failures that superiors felt warranted extra training.

I worked at battalion and happened to be lucky enough to stay in the general area during a field. Hubby worked in Bravo, a battery in my battalion, and they only needed about fifteen to twenty minutes to get to their site. Suitably, since their traveling was minimal, they had a pretty good track record as far as we were concerned: good at evaluations, on top of their comms.

Enter Alpha Battery.

Alpha was notorious at battalion for being a mess. They were the only battery on post who had to really travel to their field site, a two to three hour trip one way through Korea in a convoy at the asscrack of dawn every single exercise, getting yelled at the whole time from us (because they were always late and never got their comms working) and by their superiors for 1) not being careful enough with the equipment because they were going too fast 2) working too slowly with the equipment and wasting time.

Alpha had the highest number of accidents and incidents because of this. I really can’t even blame them; they were entirely the scapegoats of TOC, constantly the singled-out problem battery as far as fields go.

Finally, after a half dozen of quick succession fields, five or six hours of round trip travel per field, (this was after Kim Jong Un came to power, and our bet was that our command was jumpy) YET ANOTHER field exercise was announced, and that was it: they’d had enough. The night before the field was to start, an unknown number of soldiers snuck onto their site late at night and slashed Every. Single. Tire. On every piece of equipment they owned. Nothing was spared.

Due to the sheer work involved, we assumed at least a half dozen people were responsible, if not more, and we suspected that at least some of those involved were NCOs or even officers. As we never found out who did it, no one was ever charged, no significant punishment was ever given, and, happily enough for Alpha, they did not have to make their troublesome convoy that field. They did have an awful lot of tires to replace but except for the thousands of taxpayer dollars wasted on said tires, there were no repercussions.

Soldiers, even higher ups, can revolt if pushed, and they don’t always get caught. Fun things to remember for your story. -K

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Soldiers serving with Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Division, shoot a round down range from their M777A2 howitzer on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. The round was part of a shoot to register, or zero, the howitzers, which had just arrived on KAF from Forward Operating Base Pasab. The shoot also provided training for a fire support team from 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, 4th Inf. Div.

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The enemy of my enemy.

[1] U.S. Air Force Maj. Zach Laird, 23rd Fighter Group chief of standards and evaluation, executes a show-of-force maneuver in an A-10C Thunderbolt II over an M109A6 Paladin howitzer at the Oro Grande Range Complex, Fort Bliss, Texas. While supporting artillery units, A-10 pilots must continuously “deconflict,” ensuring they stay out of the line of friendly-fire, while also attacking their target.

[2] Airmen from the 74th Fighter Squadron and the 23rd Maintenance Group speak with soldiers from Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery, 1st Armored Division, about the mission and capabilities of the M109A6 Paladin howitzer during Exercise IRON STRIKE at the Oro Grande Range Complex, Fort Bliss, Texas. IRON STRIKE integrates armored units, artillery units and A-10 aircraft for realistic joint fire and close air support execution. [Bonus Paladin close-up because the quality ones are rare.]

(U.S. Air Force Photos by Airman 1st Class Ryan Callaghan, 4 DEC 2014.)