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By 1st Sgt. HollyAnn Nicom
Soldiers from C Battery, 1-107th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team are in Tunisia to take part in African Lion 23, U.S. Africa Command's largest annual combined, joint exercise.
Eighteen nations and approximately 8,000 personnel will participate in AL23 in multiple countries from May 13 to June 18.
The exercise brings U.S. participants from across the joint force, including the Reserve and National Guard, to increase interoperability during crises and to bolster security and stability in the region.
“African Lion gives us the opportunity to conduct joint fires, both land-based artillery and aircraft,” said Maj. Kurt Shingledecker, battalion executive officer for 1-107th Field Artillery. “This has been a good opportunity for us to synchronize fires in a combined arms environment, as well as a multinational environment.”
By training together, the U.S. military, its partners and allies get the repetitions needed to fight and win together on the modern day battlefield with the goal of enhancement of regional security and readiness to deploy, fight and win in a complex, multi-domain environment. Exercises like AL 23 have a lasting and sustained impact on shared defense capabilities between U.S. and partner forces.
C Battery has a unique structure in that they are a composite battery comprising two types of weapons systems, the M119 and M777 Howitzers, along with all the personnel and equipment needed to support the safe, realistic operations of a battery in an austere desert environment. Every Soldier contributes to the successful collaborative missions that occur daily while positioned next to their Tunisian partners.
“The M777’s can shoot farther and have a lot more impact and can do a lot more destruction if they need to, while the smaller Howitzers [M119’s] have the benefit of moving a lot faster,” said Capt. Richard Fry, C Battery commander. “They can shoot and get out of there before any type of counter fire, which allows us to do a long fight and a short fight at a battery level.”
AL 23 integrates a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among U.S. and partner nations and set the theater for strategic access.
“Howitzers can fight anytime and anywhere to help shape the maneuver commander’s fight,” said Shingledecker. “We bring a responsiveness that is able to help successfully complete the mission.”
During AL 23, Soldiers from 1-107th have the opportunity to fire side-by-side with their Tunisian counterparts as part of a combined arms, live-fire exercise, which is the culmination of their joint training.
“That is a huge morale bump for my Soldiers,” said Shingledecker. “We’re building that interoperability with our Tunisian partners and our capacity to conduct live-fire operations so they can see how we do things, and we can potentially learn from them how they conduct field artillery operations.”
Events like this would not be possible without the total force contributions of both National Guard and Reserve service members. Representatives from across the country volunteered to participate in African Lion 23, exemplifying the high regard our citizen-Soldiers have for the exercise African Lion and their participating partners and allies.