NEWS | Nov. 13, 2018

America’s Thunder Participates in Black Oryx Exercise

By Capt. Jeffrey Belnap 65th Field Artillery Brigade

Soldiers from the 65th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) and 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery Regiment (FAR) participated in Exercise Black Oryx with the Jordan Armed Forces’ (JAF) 29th Royal High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Battalion in Amman, Jordan, Oct. 24 through 25, 2018.

Black Oryx is an annual bilateral live-fire exercise with the JAF field artillery and the force field artillery headquarters for the U.S. Army’s Central Command.

“The purpose of the exercise was to display and increase interoperability between U.S. and JAF , increase mission readiness by exercising artillery tables I–VI, and enhance interoperability by utilizing liaison officers at the fire direction centers,” stated Maj. Jeremy Williams, the officer in charge of theater security cooperation of the 65th FAB. For many of the Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 121st FAR, Black Oryx was their first experience working with a foreign military.

“It was an opportunity to see how [the JAF] run their operations,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Kumlien of the 121st FAR. The JAF’s 29th Royal HIMARS Battalion led the exercise, with Soldiers of the 121st FAR in supporting roles.

The emphasis of the exercise was for the 29th RHB to rehearse fire missions, simulate training, and synchronize communication through their fire direction control (FDC) center with their American counterparts.

“We had two FDCs working together as a group sending fire missions,” said 1st Lt. Sean Mayerbock, fire direction officer with the 1-121st FAR. “The FDC was the brains of the operation. They built missions and sent them to the [JAF] launchers,” he said.

In addition to the bilateral exercise, Kumlien explained that Soldiers would also build unity by sitting down together for shared meals, and competing with each other during the exercise. “It’s important to keep building that relationship,” he said.

Jordan Armed Forces Lt. Col. Amer al-Smadi, commander of the 29th RHB, said the exercise not only increased military capability but also created a shared understanding between the two nations.

“It’s an opportunity to learn about the other culture. It’s an opportunity for my officers and NCOs to speak English, and for the U.S. Army to speak Arabic,” said Amer.

This was the fifth annual Black Oryx exercise between the JAF and the force field artillery headquarters for the U.S. Army’s Central Command. The Soldiers of the 65th Field Artillery Brigade and 1-121st FAR, look forward to more exercises.

“It’s a way for us to work together and build cohesion between two nations,” concluded Kumlien.