Loud booms at 3 a..m. heard throughout Savannah…. the sound of artillery fire from Fort Stewart’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team conducting live-fire exercises on base since the beginning of February.
“We have to sustain that readiness in case our nation calls, we’re here to answer that call,” said Colonel Phil Brooks, Commander of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team.
The combined arms live-fire exercises include M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, indirect artillery from M109A6 Paladins, AH-64 Apache attack aviation support from Hunter Army Airfield, and M1 Assault Breacher Vehicle with dismounted infantry. A total of about 150 men and women are involved in each training exercise, in total more than 4,000 preparing to go to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California later this spring.
“We have to integrate our artillery assets, aviation assets, and even air force assets when they’re employed here. As one team… that’s how we train here at our home station, and how we’ll train at the national training center, and how we’ll fight when asked to deploy,” Brooks said.
In this live-fire training exercise, the ground units start from 12 miles away and are faced with possible enemy tactics along the way such as jammed communication systems. This forces the soldiers to switch radio frequencies in order to maintain communication.
When they reach the range, the Abrams tanks lead with suppression fire, then the M-1 Assault Breacher Vehicles enter to clear an obstacle of barbed wire, which in a real war situation would be live mines.
They then set stakes clearing a path for the Bradleys to enter and proceed to enemy trenches.
“Some of the infantry soldiers will have to dismount from their vehicles and clear a trench of possible enemy troops inside the trench,” Brooks said, “Once they’re complete with that, they will establish a hasty defense to the east and be prepared for the enemy to attack.”
Fort Stewart is the largest installation on the east side of the Mississippi River and is equipped with a digital training range allowing the brigade to record their accuracy of hitting targets and later assess.
The exercise concludes with an after action review, where the Brigade Commander discusses with the company what they did right and what can be improved.
These particular exercises will last through the beginning of March. The brigade will then start prepping for their weeks of training in the field at Fort Irwin April 1st through the 14th.
Brooks says the sounds you hear are the sounds of freedom, and while there are no set deployments for his brigade, he says they will remain ready.