You could say Guard members of the A Battery of the 1-194th Field Artillery of the Iowa Army National Guard sharpened their sights Wednesday.
Guard members held a field exercise in the industrial park area in Estherville. The purpose was to qualify for aiming 105 howitzers – accurately. The non-live fire exercise will be followed up with a trip to Camp Ripley where Guard members will do hands-on life-fire exercises.
The exercises Wednesday were just as important, though.
Lt. Kyle Brewer, field artillery fire direction office and public affairs representative, said everyone in the seven-man teams taking part in the exercises Wednesday had to certify. The objective is to be able to acquire a target within a minute after getting the coordinates. The 105 howitzers that the local unit just received have a maximum range of 14,500 meters.
It’s not as easy at it might sound. Variables can include wind and temperature.
While it’s only natural that all Guard members in Estherville need to get certified in field artillery, Brewer said their actual role could vary when they deploy to Afghanistan later this year. The Guard members will first go to Camp Shelby, Mississippi for a month then fur further training in California for another month. They’ll then deploy to Afghanistan for nine months and return to the States for a month after that before coming home.
Brewer said the first platoon will attach to the 113th Cav and the second to the 168th Infantry. Their mission could include fire support or infantry duty.
“It’s whatever we need whenever we get there,” Brewer said.
Guardsmen were to start heading for Camp Ripley Thursday through Saturday.
“They know there’s a mission coming,” observed Sgt. Shannon Lehmkuhl of Estherville. “It’s the waiting time that hurts.”
Brewer said the sendoff date to Camp Shelby will be about Aug. 1.