Artillery calls in air assets

By Maj. Carla Raisler, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery Brigade and 2nd Battalion 147th Aviation work together to prepare 69 155mm High Explosive projectiles (ammunition) and 40 M231 Modular Artillery Charge Systems (MACS) and fuses for transport via sling load operations. Air Assault qualified Soldiers with the 2/138th FA BN were provided refresher training by 2/147th during their annual training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, June 16, 2016. (US Army National Guard Photo by Maj. Carla Raisler)

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery Brigade and 2nd Battalion 147th Aviation work together to prepare 69 155mm High Explosive projectiles (ammunition) and 40 M231 Modular Artillery Charge Systems (MACS) and fuses for transport via sling load operations. Air Assault qualified Soldiers with the 2/138th FA BN were provided refresher training by 2/147th during their annual training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, June 16, 2016. (US Army National Guard Photo by Maj. Carla Raisler)

FORT KNOX, Ky. — Field Artillery and Aviation Soldiers worked together to conduct combined training on medical evacuation training (MEDEVAC) and Sling Load operations during the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery Battalion’s annual training at Fort Knox, June 3-19, 2016.

The 2/138th completed section certification and live fire exercises in order to reach section level proficiency and complete howitzer and fire direction control certification, the primary focus for the unit’s annual training. Their mission also included medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) training, sling load operations, and a convoy movement through improvised explosive training lanes to a secondary tactical assembly area.

Soldiers from the 2/138th and Detachment 1, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation worked hand in hand to provide relevant and realistic MEDEVAC training by providing air support to Soldiers on the ground.

Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Lowe, flight medic for 2/238th, and Staff Sgt. Stephen Roberts, battalion medic for 2/138th, trained medics and Soldiers from the 2/138th on procedures for assessing, treating, preparing and loading causalities onto aircraft. The training prepares medics for the stress and disorientation that occurs during a causality evacuation.

“Training with aircraft gives my medics the ability to train under the stress of a real world scenario,” said Roberts. “If I can stress them out here, they will be better prepared in an actual emergency.”

During their advanced individual training, medics receive blocks of instruction on each step of patient care, from point of injury to releasing the patient to the flight medic. This was the first time many of the medics were able to put all that training together and work directly with aviation. Pfc. Austin Mackey, a healthcare specialist (68W) also known as a combat medic, was able to build on his training by going through the field training.

“This was a complete first for me,” said Mackey. “We went from the point of injury, to my treatment of the patient, and then we CASEVAC to the Blackhawk site so I was treating en route, and then we got there and met up with the litter team who helped get them on the bird. I learned how to load the patient, what hand motions to use, and went over the MIST report.”

The M.I.S.T. Report has recently been incorporated into the 9-Line MEDEVAC format and traditionally comes after the 9-Line Format. The M.I.S.T. Report stands for:

M – Mechanism of injury (mine, rocket propelled grenade, improvised explosive device, etc.)

I – Type of Injury (found and or suspected)

S – Signs (pulse rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate)

T – Treatment given (morphine, tourniquet, etc.)

The MEDEVAC training was just the beginning of an innovative and ambition training plan developed by the battalion staff.

While the M109A6 Howitzers (Paladin) continue to fire late into the evening for night certification, the battalion operations staff prepared for the next big mission: Sling Load Operations. Sgt. Maj. Ernie Conyers, operations sergeant major for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion 2/138th, explains that the decision to sling load developed from conversations with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade.

“Aviation wanted to train on sling load operations and we needed to jump our TOC,” said Conyers. “They hadn’t had the opportunity to move 155 ammo before, so this was a great opportunity for everyone.”

According to 1st Sgt. Christopher Searcy, sling load operations trainer and standards instructor with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion 147th Aviation, this was the first time Kentucky National Guard aviation assets had supported field artillery tactical operations since 1996.

Bravo Co., 2/147th arrived at Fort Knox, June 10 with three UH-60 Blackhawks to transport a Standard Integrated Command Post System (SICPS) along with 69 155mm High Explosive projectiles (ammunition) and 40 M231 Modular Artillery Charge Systems (MACS) and fuses. Searcy and his team provided oversight and training for the overall operation. Prior to transporting the equipment, sling load operators from 2/147th provided refresher training to Air Assault qualified Soldiers from the 2/138th.

“Supporting the maneuver commander with safe, mission capable, mission ready aircrews and aircraft is what Army Aviation does,” said Searcy. “Movement of supplies and Soldiers in the tactical environment fulfills aviation base and mission task training requirements and we were fortunate that we had the opportunity to train with Kentucky Thunder.”

The refresher training provided by Searcy and his team gave the Air Assault Soldiers with the 2/138th the opportunity to practice preparing and rigging sling loads. Sgt. 1st Class Jeven Kedding, a platoon sergeant with Alpha Battery, acted as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the ground operations.

“This is great training because we get to cross train with other branches and learn each other’s capabilities while effectively working together on a mission,” said Kedding. “This is the first time I’ve worked sling load ops since 2010. The trainers have been excellent and you can tell they really are the subject matter experts. They allowed us to rig, inspect, and hook up the sling load, which made the training effective.”

With MEDEVAC training, Sling Load operations, and collective gunnery filed artillery tables complete, the battalion prepared to move 30 miles north by convoy to occupy a tactical assembly area in preparation for Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) Training and field artillery crew served tasks and emergency fire missions.

With such a wide variety of tasks on their plates, Soldiers of the 2/138th impressed their leadership with motivation and their ability to stay focused on the job at hand.

“I am very proud of our Soldiers and they should be proud of themselves,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Hughes. “We have done a lot of ‘Firsts’ during this annual training. We threw a lot of different training events at them and they executed them all. It took a lot of planning and resourcing to pull this off. From the staff writing the orders all the way down to the private manning the radio, everyone did an awesome job. We all grew together and have learned some very valuable lessons. We have some outstanding Warrior Soldiers and some damn fine Artillerymen and women.”

This annual training has been filled with a lot of first time training opportunities for the 2/138th. The Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Bates, recognizes the hard work that has gone into the planning and execution of such an aggressive training plan.

“Our mission is to fight as part of a combined arms team, so we’ve got to train that way,” said Bates. “Our Soldiers were able to practice some mission essential task skills for the first time thanks to our joint training with 1st Sgt. Searcy’s team. We plan to continue this partnership.”

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