More than 85 field artillery Soldiers participated in the second annual Army-hosted Field Artillery Lessons Learned Working Group at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
They spent three days sharing collective knowledge and user experience while also discussing challenges and resolutions related to the Multiple Launch Rocket System and High Mobility Artillery Rocket System fleets. While Fort Sill hosts a broad range of working groups, 2019 was the first time the FALLWG was conducted on the installation. Fort Sill is the centerpiece of all things artillery, and the sessions were well-represented with Army leadership from all field artillery enterprises.
Col. Samuel Saine, assistant to the field artillery commandant at Fort Sill, emphasized the significance of the working group and the crucial organizations that participate. He underscored that Fort Sill is the sync point for field artillery, and it’s more critical than ever for the FA Branch to align with the Army’s readiness and modernization priorities to ensure the Army achieves enhanced fires capabilities in Multi-Domain Operations and collaboration among joint forces. Saine also highlighted the timing of the working group as current efforts are underway to transform MLRS and HIMARS units and increase the number of systems and lethality across the wider Army forces.
The mission of the FALLWG is to facilitate an opportunity for the users, system employers, user representatives and materiel developers of the MLRS and HIMARS rocket artillery community to discuss best used tactics, techniques and procedures and receive updates from the project office on future upgrades and concepts planned for the systems.
Colonel Bob Dunwoody, Training and Doctrine Command capability manager for field artillery brigade-division artillery, and Col. Guy Yelverton, project manager for Strategic and Operational Rockets and Missiles Project Office (formerly Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems), co-led the event with several other key organizations in attendance such as the Long Range Precision Fires Cross Functional Team; Fires Center of Excellence; National Guard and Marine Corps HIMARS/MLRS units command and staff; field artillery brigade and commanders; battlefield coordination detachment commanders; and FA Master Gunner Division.
“I think the value of the TCM hosting the FALLWG at Fort Sill is it brings everybody onto the same page,” Maj. James Bertolino, acquisition staff officer 51A, TCM, who headed up the detailed scheduling and coordination for the conference, said. “The operational part of the Army can better understand the acquisition struggles and the acquisition division can learn more about what the operational people need most.”
Discussions focused on integrating ideas and troubleshooting challenges to tackle issues head-on and upfront. Topics surrounding risk assumptions, launcher sustainment, critical vulnerabilities and overall tactics to provide support across the FA community were identified. One shared concern among leadership was the Reduced Range Practice Rockets future state of production, a munition allowing Soldiers to gain invaluable training experience through live fire missions. The FA community along with U.S. allies and foreign military sales customers see the significance of RRPR and agreed to work to keep this practice missile in the hands of the warfighter.
In an age of emails, conference calls and other non-direct communication technologies, the working group allows for face-to-face coordination, accelerating the problem-resolution process and establishing connections for future outreach. Soldiers are able to expand their skills, knowledge and contacts across battalion, battery and platoon levels, posturing them to stand mission ready.
“The lessons learned coming out of this will help inform efforts going forward to how we train these renewed launcher systems as well as the munitions that come with it,” Saine said. “We can then share them across the force. The term lesson learned is not learned unless it is applied.”