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Artillery Soldiers Adapt to Infantry Role in Iraq
American Forces Press Service ^ | Jan 9, 2005 | Sgt. Joy Kroemer, USA

Posted on 01/09/2006 4:55:45 PM PST by SandRat

CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Jan. 9, 2006 – Fighting the war in Iraq has transformed artillerymen into light infantrymen, a job filled with cordon-and-search operations, motorized convoys and dismounted patrols. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, have accepted and excelled in their nontraditional role. The field artillery soldiers have dominated a large area throughout the city and rich farmland of Taji, performing in the role of the light infantryman and securing peace for the people of the region.

"We've captured 109 insurgents; 41 have gone to Abu Ghraib," said Lt. Col. Rafael Torres, the battalion's commander. "We've discovered 15 caches (of weapons), three of which were the biggest ever found in this area. We've taken in excess of 1,400 to 1,500 artillery rounds here recently and destroyed them."

Since their arrival in the Taji area in October, the "Top Guns" soldiers have undergone more than just artillery-turned-infantry adjustments.

Coming from Fort Campbell, Ky., and normally attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, "Top Guns" landed in Iraq and were attached to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, out of Wiesbaden, Germany.

The soldiers wasted no time in tackling the light infantry role and taking charge of a larger area of operations than most battalions find themselves having to engage, said Torres.

"Our units are spread out, so we have the challenge of constantly maneuvering our forces on the battlefield to ensure that we have the right combat power at the decisive point of an engagement," Torres explained. "I think the operational cell and the batteries have done a really good job in being flexible and doing that."

The missions have been overwhelmingly successful, said Torres, despite the loss of six soldiers since the beginning of operations.

"We've taken some hard hits here," Torres confessed, but added proudly, "Those (six) soldiers, every one of them, they were here doing their mission and they knew what their mission was."

Working diligently through those tough losses, the unit's soldiers have stepped up as a team to take the war in their area to a different level - and it has paid off, said Torres.

"I think the fact that we are a team is key," said Capt. Robert Jenkins, whose Battery A has suffered all six "Top Gun" losses. "Just maintaining that sense of team and keeping that as the nucleus of everything we do, we'll be all right."

By actively taking the fight to enemy forces in the Taji region, 1st Battalion has broken up roadside-bomb-making cells and destroyed the nucleus of different insurgent gangs, putting most of their members behind bars.

"With us proactively going after these caches, insurgents can't defend them, so they just have to watch us dig them out," explained Torres. "(In the first) 48 days, we've captured over 40 percent of what the brigade has done (since its arrival in January 2005), and that's in 48 days."

With soldiers in six different specialties making up 1st Battalion's headquarters battery, training with the right soldiers has made all the difference in effectively taking on the light infantry role.

"The 5th Special Forces group trained with us for four months solid at Fort Campbell," Torres explained, "(and) we fired more ammunition between the July timeframe until September when we deployed than the average artillery soldier has fired in his lifetime."

Some soldiers weren't sure at first about what lay ahead. "When we first found out we were going to be doing light infantry, we didn't know what to expect," said Sgt. Eden Puente, Headquarters Battery.

Training by experts in infantry tactics made a difference in the soldiers' confidence levels. "I think everybody's pretty happy about what we've been doing here so far," said Puente.

No matter what the upcoming mission holds for Torres and his "Top Guns," he said, one thing is certain - they are ready for the future, but never forgetting their accomplished past and the soldiers who represented them in Taji.

"I am extremely proud of the (soldiers)," said Torres. "They have gone above and beyond any of the expectations I would have had of them at this phase of the battle. In my mind, they upheld the name of the 101st, period. So I'm proud of them."

Torres also credits support from back home for helping the soldiers' success.

"I would like to thank everyone in rear detachment and our family readiness group for all their hard work and support of us while we are trying to accomplish our mission," he said.

(Army Sgt. Joy Kroemer is assigned to 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.)

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: adapt; artillery; infantry; iraq; oif; role; soldiers
1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery
1 posted on 01/09/2006 4:55:48 PM PST by SandRat
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To: 2LT Radix jr; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; 80 Square Miles; AlaninSA; A Ruckus of Dogs; acad1228; ...

Kroemer, Kroemer, -- wasn't there an AFNRadio broadcaster in Nam with that name??????

Oh well,...

Red Legs become Ground Pounders!

2 posted on 01/09/2006 4:57:38 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

Gun Grapes put to use. That said by an old 0844 USMC 81-85.

3 posted on 01/09/2006 5:00:58 PM PST by junta (It's Jihad stupid! Or why should I tolerate those who hate me?)
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To: SandRat
Gen U.S. Grant used the Heavy Artillery as Infantry at Cold Harbor to his advantage. The redlegs distinguished themselves with bravery and self sacrifice there.

Todays' US Army trains their soldiers and gives them the tools they need to stay alive. God Bless them.

4 posted on 01/09/2006 6:35:36 PM PST by vetvetdoug
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To: SandRat

Red Legs become Ground Pounders!

Gunner Palace
Plot Outline: American soldiers of the 2/3 Field Artillery, a group known as the "Gunners," tell of their experiences in Baghdad during the Iraq War. Holed up in a bombed out pleasure palace built by Sadaam Hussein, the soldiers endured hostile situations some four months after President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the country

Good, truthful documentary - a little heavy on the downer, 2 May 2005

Author: tmcnabb104 from United States

Gunner Palace, a documentary by Michael Tucker that follows the U.S. Army's 2/3 Field Artillery for two months while the cope with occupation duty in Iraq. The title is a conflation of the nickname of the unit, The Gunners, and the fact that they have set up shop in a bombed out palace of Uday Hussein.

I can't find it on the web, but I read a bio that the filmmaker served in the mid to late 80s, roughly the same time I was in the Army. I've latched onto the fact (and I hope it is true) because it explains the tone of the film. When I walked out, I told Jim, who had seen it with me, that this guy wanted to make an anti-war movie, but couldn't quite bring himself to do it.

What we see is as much cinema verities we are likely to get in this politically radioactive conflict. Tucker lets the young troops pretty much be young troops for the camera. They all to some extent (and one in particular a great deal) mug for the camera and utter their doubts, concerns and reveal their conflicts. There don't appear to be many people above the age of thirty, though I find it hard to believe that an entire battalion would be so comprised.

We also see soldier show great restraint in difficult situations. In one scene, a drugged out, dirty and bedraggled street urchin is delivered to a place where he will hopefully find some sort of care. The GIs are careful, almost solicitous of the child, demonstrating a great deal of tenderness when considered in context of the fact that they are in a city where they are compelled to carry heavy weapons and wear body armor.

There is a lot of very scraggly video of nighttime raids. Bear in mind that field artillerymen are trained to shoot high-explosives over the horizon and wreck stuff, not tool around a foreign capital like cops. Again, these young men show tremendous restraint as they round up people suspected of manufacturing roadside bombs and lobbing mortars at their temporary home.

You feel a sense of futility at times as you watch, but a 60 day snapshot of a difficult mission is going to do that. Some of the soldiers make statements that could be found on you garden variety Bush = Hitler website, and it broke my heart. What they are doing is noble and necessary given the condition of the world, though a 20 year old would be hard pressed to put it into proper context. It is a shame for anyone over there doing their best to not feel their due honor.

If you rabidly feel one should speak-no-evil of the war while we are at war, Gunner Palace will irk you or worse. I found it to be sufficiently truthful and sincere to be a must-see. Pro-war and anti-war folk will find inspiration, which may mean it was done just about right.

5 posted on 01/09/2006 9:27:54 PM PST by Valin (Purple Fingers Rule!)
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To: SandRat


6 posted on 01/10/2006 3:03:37 AM PST by E.G.C.
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