XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery.
The XVIIIth Corps Artillery and the 18th FA Brigade soldiers superbly executed all training exercises and real-world missions throughout the past year. The Corps Artillery conducted two fire support conferences at Fort Bragg in an attempt to address issues in the light artillery community, both in the Active Component and Reserve Component.
In January, the Corps Artillery and the 18th FA Brigade supported the 82d Airborne Division's Warfighter, enduring two weeks of the coldest weather and snow in Fort Bragg's history. The brigade was charged with the counterfire fight for the division and was commended by O/Cs for the finest counterfire battle drill the O/Cs had ever seen.
Contingency Force Training. The XVllIth Corps Artillery planned and executed Roving Sands 2000. This exercise provided a unique opportunity for the Corps to establish two major headquarters at the same time: the Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to Virginia where the Corps Artillery manned the JTF cell; additionally Corps Artillery personnel deployed to Fort Bliss, Texas, to operate the Army forces deep operations coordination cell (DOCC). During the Joint Contingency Force (JCF)-Advanced Warfighter Exercise (AWE) in September at the JRTC with the 10th Mountain Division, the Corps Artillery again deployed the DOCC and JTF fires cell. The 18th FA Brigade provided 1377 FA's TOC for training at Fort Drum, New York; the JRTC at Fort Polk, Louisiana; and Fort Bragg.
To close the year, the Corps Artillery and the 18th FA Brigade began the road to a BCTP Warfighter for the 10th Mountain Division AWE and the XVIIIth Airborne Corps embedded Warfighter, which includes the 101st Airborne Division.
18th Field Artillery Brigade (Airborne). The brigade once again lived up to its motto of Steel Soldiers by completing many off-post deployments in support of the 82d, 101st and 3d Infantry Divisions. The brigade completed an NTC rotation and four JRTC rotations. It accomplished these tasks while simultaneously fielding AFATDS and remaining focused on contingency mission readiness.
The 1-377 FA Warriors deployed to the NTC in support of the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR). This successful rotation identified the requirements for a dedicated battalion trained to support cavalry operations.
The battalion also participated in the JCF-AWE at Forts Drum and Polk, testing the fire support task force concept in simulation. This task force was designed to integrate general support/ reinforcing fires into a medium brigade early entry force. 1-377 FA also spearheaded the effort to upgrade the M198 howitzers with a remote power source.
This year found the brigade assuming the mission of providing direct support to the 2d ACR. 3-321 FA The Thunderbolts entered into a productive relationship with the regiment. The brigade's affiliation with the 2d ACR provided second command opportunities for the howitzer batteries of the regiment. From base-piece LFXs to seminars, the 18th FA Brigade-2d ACR relationship flourished.
The brigade conducted EXEVALs of 3-321 FA and 3-27 FA (MLRS). 3-321 FA focused on developing the direct support mission with the 2d ACR. 3-27 FA focused on the evaluation of deploying its prototype high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS), validating the battalion's ability to supply deep fires in support of the XVIIIth Airborne Corps.
In July, a corps emergency deployment exercise, once again, highlighted the brigade's ability to deploy and rapidly deliver fires. A fire support task force--comprised of an M198 battery, the HIMARS platoon, a Q-37 Firefinder counterfire radar and a battalion command and control ([C.sup.2]) element--deployed to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on 12 C-141 sorties. The unit conducted a live-fire exercise and a joint air assault operation using Marine Corps CH-53 helicopters. The task force fired live as part of a joint SEAD operation with Cobra helicopters and FA-18s.
The 18th FA Brigade also participated in the joint exercise Purple Dragon with 1-321 FA (Airborne) parachuting into Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg in support of this exercise. The battalion also conducted a Reciprocal Unit Exchange with French Paratroopers. C Battery, 1-321 FA deployed to France to train with the French Artillery while French gunners deployed to Fort Bragg for an action-packed three-week event.
The Brigade Master Gunner conducted and taught the brigade's inaugural Master Gunner's Course during August of this year. The course taught skill-level 4 tasks and unit standards to 11 senior NCOs from nearly every battery in the brigade.
Also in August, the brigade deployed TF Warrior with more than 550 soldiers to Montana to support national fire fighting efforts. This mission provided another opportunity to validate the brigade's ability to deploy with little or no notice.
Conclusion. The XVIIIth Airborne Corps Artillery and 18th Field Artillery Brigade (Airborne) continue to prepare to respond to worldwide crisis, both present and future. The year ended with 3-27 FA (MLRS) and 1-377 FA (Air Assault) prepping for off-post deployments to the NTC and 3-321 FA sending one battery to the JRTC. Thunderbolts! Air Assault! Steel Rain! Warrior! Dragonfire!