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08-06-04, 05:49 AM
Eyes of artillery
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 2004851335
Story by Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier

YAUSUBETSU MANEUVER AREA, HOKKAIDO, Japan — (August 5, 2004) -- Forward observers with Battery R, 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, used a few days here recently to practice getting rounds on target in a more restrictive area than they are used to.

Marines and sailors from the 155 mm howitzer artillery battery arrived here late last month to conduct a battery-level training exercise through Aug. 15 that is designed to improve their operational readiness, staff coordination and integration.

The battery is currently attached to 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Camp Hansen, Okinawa, on loan as part of the unit deployment program from Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Marines in the gun position of an artillery unit are usually the focus during firing exercises. However, in order for them to shoot accurately, they require guidance from forward observer teams to place those rounds into the impact area.

The FO team usually consists of four Marines, including a forward observer, a scout observer and two radio operators. These teams are normally closer to the intended target area than any other member of the artillery battery.

“If a wartime situation occurs, the forward observers would go in with an infantry unit to locate the targets to plan and execute fire support,” said 1st Lt. Eric D. Kitt, field artillery officer, 3/12.

The FO team locates enemy targets and communicates the enemy’s position to the fire direction center. The FDC determines which howitzer in the battery will fire rounds downrange, according to Kitt.

“The fire direction center receives the position of the FO team from the (combat operations center) and calculates the technical firing data that determines the distance and direction the howitzers need to fire,” Kitt said. “The gun line is the brawn, the FDC is the brains and the FO team is the eyes."

“The environment is what makes this training area different,” said Cpl. Nicholas D. Slicker, scout observer, 3/12. “The thick brush and the smaller impact area make training here a different experience than training at Camp Lejeune.”

The impact area is notably smaller than many other areas the Marines and sailors of Battery R have trained at, according to 1st Lt. Matt T. Ritchie, Battery R liaison officer.

“Despite the smaller impact area here, this deployment will give the Marines the training they need,” Ritchie said. “Whatever the outcome, the Marines will understand their jobs better because of the opportunity to train here.”


YAUSUBETSU MANEUVER AREA, HOKKAIDO, Japan — Navy seaman Jeremy D. Arnett stands at an observation post and watches an M-198 155-millimeter howitzer round hit the impact area here July 29. Marines and sailors of Battery R, 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, who are currently on the unit deployment program from Camp Lejeune, N.C., and attached to 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Camp Hansen, Okinawa, arrived to conduct an artillery relocation exercise here July 21 through Aug. 15. Arnett is a religious program specialist for 3/12. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier