Kentucky Air Guard and 138th Field Artillery working together during Dynamic Front 18 training

By: Capt. Gus Lafontaine, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The 138th Field Artillery Brigade is currently participating in Dynamic Front 18 Training Exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany. This is the fourth of a four part series that documents the 138th Field Artillery Brigade Overseas Deployment Training.  Click here to read parts one, two and three.

Lt. Col. Ash Groves of the Kentucky Air National Guard participated in Dynamic Front 18 in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

(GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany)  – Lt. Col. Ash Groves has been an Airman for 21 years. He’s was a member of the United States Air Force from 1998-2005 whereupon he joined the Kentucky Air National Guard. During his time in the Air Guard he’s held a wide variety of positions. However, Groves recently found himself serving in a position he’d never served in before.

He was attached to the 138th Field Artillery Brigade as a Liaison Officer during Dynamic Front 18, a multinational field artillery training exercise held in Grafenwoer, Germany. Groves was the lone Airmen among a formation of more than 100 Kentucky Army National Guard Artillerymen.

Groves’ inclusion in the training exercise was by specific request of 138th Field Artillery Brigade Commander, Dennis Hawthorne. “The addition of Lt. Col. Groves to the mission provided the basic level of joint integration of fires, both ground and air. HIs knowledge and experience in the Kentucky Air National Guard provided a level of proficiency to the 138th that we identified as a priority prior to the training exercise, said Hawthorne.”

Groves brought his skills to the Dynamic Front exercise. “I think the way the Airmen that are participating in this exercise do. For example, an Airman might say ‘we own the air space.’ That’s always going to be the answer from an Airman. In reality, it’s common use air space. Airmen and Soldiers have to work together to find the best way to manage that common use air space.”

Airspace management is a critical component to field artillery operations because field artillery munitions can travel thousands of feet high in altitude.

His expertise was cited as a key contribution by his 138th counterparts. First Lt. Cody McMillen cited Groves as a key contributor to increasing the speed of fires missions during Dynamic Front.

Speaking of the Air Force’s role in controlling air space during the training exercise, McMillen said, “It was a challenge to come to terms and agreement with each other, however with a lot assistance from our Air Force liaison, [Lt. Col. Groves], we were able to sit down and figure out the best solution.”

Groves sees a bigger picture to the benefits of Kentucky Airmen and Soldiers training together.  “We’re a joint state. It seems to me that very few of us understand what the other one does or even what capabilities they have. We need to understand that we’re not so dissimilar. We can compliment each other.”

Hawthorne agreed, “Not only does this opportunity of collaborative training provide greater training proficiency, but enhances the understanding of what both services bring to the fight.”  Groves felt the experience was mutually beneficial.

“I enjoy bringing the air perspective to the Army formation. I enjoy what the Army brings to me.  The Army will think of things from a different angle than I do. A lot of times their solution and my solution is combined to create a better solution than I would have come up with by myself.”

His experience has also increased his confidence in both fighting forces. “Having worked with Army and Air officers, enlisted service members senior and junior, all the way down to the E1, I can say that there’s some really good, talented people in the Kentucky National Guard. Without a doubt, hands down, if I had to go into a fight tonight I know where I’d want to be.”

Groves feels strongly that his experience can be expanded to include more Kentucky Guardsmen. “The sky’s the limit on the potential here. We’ve got to have leaders on both sides that find those niches that can be filled with Soldiers or Airmen during training events. This is how the Kentucky National Guard will become the best version of itself.”