Kentucky Thunder back on the guns

Story by Sgt. Alexa Becerra, 138th Field Artillery Brigade Public Affairs 

Barrell cleaning

Soldiers with Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery clean the barrel of a M109 Paladin during a drill weekend at Fort Knox, Ky., March 8, 2014.  (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — After being constantly deployed to different combat zones for the past decade as security forces, convoy security and military trainers, the dynamic 138th Field Artillery Brigade returned their focus to their main field of expertise.

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Staff Sgt. Christopher Lisle, a howitzer section chief with the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery communicates orders to his crew during a training exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., March 8, 2014. The exercise is part of the unit’s goal to complete qualification with functional combat artillery support capabilities. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

As combat deployments become few and far between, the 138th Field Artillery is transitioning back to being able to provide accurate and predictable artillery fires, all while maintaining overall soldier readiness.

“After being off the guns for several years, our focus now is getting back to Field Artillery fundamentals,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Lisle, Howitzer Section Chief at Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery. “It’s amazing to see this level of excitement from our guys, most of which have served almost a full contract doing deployment related tasks and have not been on the Howitzers.”

Lisle added that while there is a depth of experience, it hasn’t all been artillery related.

“We are building our teams from the ground up, and doing it right,” said Lisle, whose battery conducts their training at Fort Knox, Ky. “Our goal by the end of the year is to complete table seven section qualification.”

Spc. Glemeau

Spc. Glemeau with the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery wipes grease off the barrel of a M109 Paladin at Fort Knox, Ky., March 8, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

Table VIII section qualification consists of live fire missions and certifies the units as qualified firing batteries. As in many other fields, to be able to execute the artillery mission operational support is needed.

“Our mission in the fire control section is to redeploy the operations center by retraining and reintegrating ourselves in the role of being digital artillerymen,” said Staff Sgt. J.C. Parsons, Assistant Fire Control Non-Commissioned Officer for Headquarters Headquarters Battery, 138th Field Artillery.

The operations center is currently located at Bluegrass Station, Ky., said Parsons.

“We are training to reestablish proper command flow and control of how the field artillery is used and commanded in the modern day warfare,” said Parsons.

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Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery maneuver a M109 Paladin during a training exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., March 8, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

The full reintegration process will take time, but so far the 138th is headed in the right direction.

“The environment and circumstances we are working in have changed,” said 2nd Lt. Holdun Reed, Platoon Leader at Charlie Battery, 2/138th. “Yet, we are adaptive and resilient and have smoothly made the changes necessary to operate like we always have; perhaps better than before.”

As with most National Guard units, versatility and adaptability are traits that are required to succeed and have even become second nature to the 138th.

“I have always believed that Field Artillery is the most versatile force and we have proven that so far and will continue to prove it,” said Reed. “We stand ready for missions abroad and within our own state.”

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