The 130th Field Artillery Brigade of Task Force Spartan participated in an Air and Missile Defense Exercise (AMDEX 21), a U.S.-led event that develops tactics against simulated air and missile threats, April 12 - 23, 2021.
Approximately 1,700 U.S. military personnel at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and multiple locations throughout Southwest Asia participated in the semi-annual exercise – which also reassures coalition and regional partners of the U.S.’s commitment to stability and security in the region.
The 130th FAB demonstrated refined and sustained integrated air and missile defense capabilities using existing and emerging theater air, surface, space, cyber and missile defense systems.
Maj. Chris Koochel, the Fires Effects Coordination Cell officer in charge, and Chief Warrant Carol Sprawka, the brigade targeting officer conducted multiple academic sessions to ensure there was a shared understanding of the 130th FAB’s operations and procedures.
“We spent a great deal of time preparing for the exercise including: Attending the AMDEX 21 academics, section cell meetings, and preparing battle drills for HIMARS fire missions,” said Sprawka. “We wanted to make sure our team was set up for success.”
A key point of the exercise for the 130th FAB was to integrate HIMARS as a force multiplier.
“The integration of HIMARS capabilities into AMDEX demonstrated the system’s ability to rapidly respond to emerging threats within the AOR,” said Koochel. “By coordinating with the Combined Air Operations Center Dynamic Targeting Cell, HIMARS units were able to share critical tactics, techniques and procedures with Air Force counterparts in order to provide timely and accurate fires throughout the exercise.”
However, this integration came with its own set of challenges.
“One hurdle was syncing Air Force terminology to Army verbiage,’ said Sprawka. “While this was a challenge, we were able seamlessly integrate, thanks to preplanning and the many rehearsals alongside the airmen.”
Sgt. Evan Andrews, 130th FAB’s fire detection non-commissioned officer, also played a vital role in the exercise.
While supporting the exercise, he built the deployment of HIMARS into his tracking system and linked it to the Fire Control Panel Trainer — a system that allows the HIMARS to fire a rocket once a mission is received.
“Once I was provided a mission, I would manually input into my Artillery Tactical Data System and then send it to the FCPT,” said Andrews. “At the same time I recorded information from the fire mission to send back to Shaw Air Force Base, where I would await for the air to clear in order to fire. This was an excellent way to test our capabilities and to train accurately and efficiently.”
This event shows the 130th FAB’s ability to process fire support and airspace coordination measures in an integrated, combined and joint scenario. The integration of U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force personnel helped to ensure interoperability between the various air and missile systems.
“These lessons will continue to help shape and refine standard operating procedures and help provide a shared understanding of capabilities for future operations across the joint force,” said Koochel
AMDEX 21 contributes to the increased lethality and readiness within the Task Force Spartan area of responsibility. Task Force Spartan is committed to establishing strong partnerships and maintaining a ready and responsive force.