CJTF-HOA warriors participate in surface fire support exercise

19 Jan 2003 | Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

Elements from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, including representatives from four countries, participated in Naval Surface Fire Support Live-Fire Exercise 1-03 Jan. 19 here.

From an observation point nearly 600 feet above the range, American, German, French and Spanish service members called for naval gunfire from the Spruance-class destroyer USS Briscoe (DD 977).

"There were 52 people at the range and about 20 of those got to call in a total of 32 fire missions," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. William A. Garren, naval surface fires officer for CJTF-HOA.

The objective of the exercise was for CJTF-HOA forces to coordinate maritime strike assets in a scenario-driven mission environment and to bring Coalition partners together for training, according to Garren, of East Liverpool, Ohio.

Prior to the first round leaving USS Briscoe, the troops received classes about naval gunfire and how to properly call for fire support.

"We all have different methods in how we operate, so it was good to learn and understand how we should do this so we can work together," commented German Naval Gunnery Officer Meinrad Lorenz. "The German Navy very rarely gets to practice naval gunfire because we don't have any ranges, so this is also a good opportunity for some practice."

During the exercise, roughly 300 rounds, from the ship's 5-inch, .54 caliber naval guns,

were launched, in both daylight and nighttime, across some six miles of water to targets located on shore.

To end the training evolution, the troops coordinated illumination of the target area for engagement with high explosive rounds and a 40-round massed fire destruction mission on one target.

"Practicing to call naval gunfire is important because a unit can use it when they need to secure a beachhead. It's a great way to clear out the enemy," explained Garren. "But it doesn't just have to be used for amphibious landings; it can provide great cover for a unit, too."

However, because it was an exercise and not "the real thing" and even though the range seemed desolate, the participants had to be watchful of the ground below.

Several camel herds were spotted and chased away by CH-53E helicopters to avoid damaging a valuable Djiboutian commodity.

Once the range was cleared for fireing, the service members went right back to calling for fire.

Army Lt. Col. Robert F. McLaughlin, fire officer for CJTF-HOA, said, "I think this exercise went extremely well because it was an opportunity to train with multiple assets. Also, it allowed the Americans to work closely with Coalition troops, so if they ever have to do this for real, they'll be familiar with how things should work."

Headquarters Marine Corps