NEWS | Aug. 14, 2018

USARCENT hosts 2018 Regional Artillery Symposium

By Sgt. Von Marie Donato U.S. Army Central

Field artillery, known as the "King of Battle," was the single highest casualty-producing weapons system on any battlefield during the world wars, and continues to be one of the most lethal and effective warfighting functions in current day operations.

As the U.S. Army continues to build partner capacity in the Middle East for increased security and regional self-reliance, there is a growing requirement for interoperability with partner nations for effective combined force contingency operations.

In order to advance interoperability efforts, U.S. Army Central hosted the Regional Artillery Symposium with partner nations in Nashville Aug. 6-10. The symposium created an open forum for partner nations to discuss field artillery operations, tactical planning and execution methodologies to strategically develop artillery assets in the USARCENT area of responsibility.

“The symposium has provided a venue with eight of our partner nations, senior field artillery leaders and planners to discuss some of the lessons learned through previous operations,” said Maj. Jeremy Williams, a speaker at the symposium and theater security cooperation coordinator for the 65th Field Artillery Brigade. It also provided the opportunity to share information and standard operating procedures.

Partner nations who attended the symposium included Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

“Having our partners here is a great opportunity. This is a great starting point in regards to preparing for future multi-national exercises,” said Maj. Marc Sauter, a speaker at the symposium and the assistant fire support coordinator for USARCENT. “This leads to future functions and increases the effectiveness of our exercise programs even more so.”

USARCENT recently completed the annual bilateral exercise Eager Lion with the Jordanian Armed Forces, which served as a major training event to improve U.S. and Jordanian abilities in a coalition-type environment.

“When we move into Eager Lion 19, it will be a multilateral exercise with several partners participating,” Sauter added. “Having an artillery symposium now not only allows us to focus on field artillery operations, but it allows us to prepare to broaden the scope of training for the next exercise, create closer relationships, and communicate with a more developed and synchronized military language.”

Members of the U.S. Air Force also attended the symposium to discuss the importance of air space coordination in effective artillery operations on the battlefield.

“Air space coordination is key to field artillery operations because air space is required to conduct their missions,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ulysses Linares, a speaker at the symposium and director of operations for 82nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, 368th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Group. “Air space is also used by other components; whether its fixed-wing assets, logistic assets, combat air forces, supply air forces, etc. Bottom line, integrating air space is paramount to any type of operation because everybody needs air space to conduct their operation. Without coordinating their air space no one would be able to execute their mission.”

In addition to discussing the different aspects of coordination, the symposium allowed each country to provide capability briefs on their individual artillery operations, combat structure and proficiencies.

“I think it was extremely beneficial to have the countries provide briefings to each other all in the same room,” Sauter said, “Each nation was able to see how one another thinks and operates. That is a unique opportunity.”

The symposium ended with a culminating event, a table-top exercise, bringing together the regional partners in small groups to solve real-world conflicts and share best practices with one another.

“They were given a scenario and an operations order that required them to work together to create a definitive plan and complete the assigned mission,” said Capt. Steve Merkley, the table-top exercise officer and the liaison officer to the Combined Force Air Component Command for the 65th FAB. “It's a great opportunity, as you have officers from eight different partner nations sharing their knowledge on conducting defensive and offensive fires and fires in urban areas.”

USARCENT hosts an artillery symposium every two years and plans to host the next gathering in the Middle East.