The 138th Field Artillery among those participating in the Dynamic Front Exercise in Germany

By Capt. Gus LaFontaine, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The 138th is participating in the Dynamic Front 18, a U.S. Army-led exercise focusing on the integration of joint fires and allied artillery interoperability. The exercise will feature approximately 3,700 participants from 26 allied and partner nations.

The 138th Field Artillery Brigade is currently participating in Dynamic Front 18 Training Exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany. This is the first of a four part series that documents the 138th Field Artillery Brigade Overseas Deployment Training.

(GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany) – Mercedes Benz and BMW taxis, the euro currency, and a variety of languages and accents are the immediate things that Pvt. Brian Smith noticed when his airplane landed in Germany to participate in his first annual training as a Kentucky Army National Guardsman.

“We don’t even have taxi’s in Barbourville,” Smith exclaimed.

Smith is one of approximately 100 Soldiers from the 138th Field Artillery Brigade who arrived to Grafenwoehr (pronounced Grafen-vor) Training Area at the end of February to participate in Dynamic Front 18. Dynamic Front is a live-fire exercise that includes multiple Army commands and NATO allies. Twenty-eight countries participate in the training event. The 138th will serve as the Force Field Artillery headquarters for a NATO corps. They will provide mission command of subordinate units. This is the first time a National Guard unit has served as a headquarters element in the international training exercise.

This might be Pvt. Smith’s first annual training but Sgt. 1st Class Scott Sipress has participated in several live-fire exercises before. Sipress serves as a non-commissioned intelligence officer for the brigade. He’s been a member of the 138th since he joined the Kentucky Army National Guard in 2002.

Sipress sees the training exercise as a great opportunity for growth for the 138th.

“This environment not only offers senior NCOs and senior officers an excellent opportunity to train, but also the lower enlisted to be able to expand their horizons. We’ll all learn to think outside the box to solve problems.”

A specific area of growth that Sipress identified for Kentucky Guardsmen is working with their NATO counterparts.

“The biggest challenge we will have on this mission is identifying the differences between how artillery systems change from country to country. Will we be able to train our troops to execute the operation in a joint force setting?”

NATO plays a large role in this training exercise. The 138th will be directing subordinate units to execute fire missions. The majority of these subordinate units are NATO partners of the United States. On the first day of the training exercise members of the 138th found themselves working side by side with Romanian soldiers.

Cpt. Daniel Mare is a field artillery battery commander in the Romanian Landforces.

When asked about the importance of working in a joint environment, Mare-who speaks exceptional English-said, “From my point of view these exercises are very important because we have the opportunity to utilize the same standard operating procedures as we work together to accomplish our missions. It’s a very important experience. It’s the first time that I’ve had this opportunity.”

Sipress agreed that teamwork will be important. He said, “establishing a strong working relationship with our NATO counterparts is key to the overall success of the mission. Our success will depend on us being able to establish good communications with other NATO countries.”

The rest of the exercise will provide plenty of those opportunities for Soldiers of the 138th.

Part two of the four-part series documenting the 138th’s participation in Dynamic Front 18 will be published on Friday, March 2nd.