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Home » Guardians of Peace: Wyoming’s 115th Field Artillery Brigade honored for their service

Guardians of Peace: Wyoming’s 115th Field Artillery Brigade honored for their service

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The U.S. Army awarded the 115th Field Artillery Brigade of the Wyoming National Guard the Meritorious Unit Citation on Feb. 3, 2024, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in recognition of their outstanding contributions during deployments across the Central Command area of responsibility. 

The 115th provided long-range precision fire support for conventional and special operations forces in Iraq, Jordan, and Syria while conducting host nation operations in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, and Egypt in support of Operation Spartan Shield, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Operation Freedom Sentinel.

“Individuals who answer the nation’s call to move to the sound of the guns, to protect those we love,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Porter, Wyoming Adjutant General. “I know of no higher calling.”

Setting the Standard in Theater Security Cooperation

During their deployment, the 115th engaged in extensive theater security cooperation activities across the CENTCOM AOR. They rapidly expanded TSC operations upon assuming the OSS mission, conducting numerous engagements and exercises in countries such as UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, and Egypt. Notably, their efforts in Kuwait led to the highest levels of cooperation ever reached between U.S. and Kuwaiti artillery forces. 

The brigade’s commander engaged in several senior leader engagements, resulting in multiple bilateral training and live-fire exercises, enhancing interoperability and readiness for future joint operations.

“Our engagements in Kuwait resulted in unprecedented levels of cooperation between U.S. and Kuwaiti forces,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eli Lilley, 115 FAB target acquisition platoon leader.  “Through joint training exercises and live-fire drills, we significantly improved our interoperability and readiness for future missions.” 

Across 20 different engagements and bilateral live-fire exercises, they fired 170 rockets and more than 100 howitzer rounds. This training significantly improved the rapid command and control of multinational field artillery and developed standard operating procedures.

The commander of the Kuwait Land Forces Artillery Regiment said, “This is the highest level of cooperation ever reached.”

The brigade’s efforts strengthened relationships and fostered greater cooperation among allied nations. According to Lilley, these engagements not only facilitated military cooperation but also helped build mutual understanding and trust.

Bringing the Cowboy Spirit to New Nations

One of the pivotal engagements for the 115th Field Artillery Brigade occurred in Jordan. Soldiers of the 115th worked side by side with the Jordanian 29th Field Artillery Regiment. Through a series of key leader engagements, the brigade established a solid foundation for cooperation and collaboration. 

These efforts culminated in a bilateral artillery command post exercise, bringing together 30 U.S. Soldiers and 35 Jordanian Soldiers. This joint exercise not only facilitated the exchange of expertise but also laid the groundwork for future joint operations. 

“The group of people we took on that mission brought that ‘cowboy mentality’ to the Jordanian folks, and the Jordanian leadership really appreciated and gravitated towards the Cowboy Guard,” said Master Sgt. Durward Jones, First Sergeant of the 115th. We built solid bonds over the training experience. When all was said and done, the host nation gave us a barbecue, giving us a chance to enjoy some of their more culturally diverse cuisines.”

“It was good to be a world away and see some good old-fashioned cowboy values,” Jones said. “When you’re in a foreign country, we all quickly appreciate that  we both want what’s best for our people and the mission.”

Additionally, the brigade coordinated the participation of the Combined Forces Field Artillery Headquarters in Exercise Eager Lion, further solidifying the bonds of partnership between the two nations, according to Jones. By sharing experiences, the  115th demonstrated its ability to foster collaboration and strengthen regional security. 

Enhancing Long-Range Precision Fires and Readiness

As the Combined Forces Land Component Commander’s Force Field Artillery Headquarters, the 115th played an essential role in expanding rocket and missile fires against enemy forces in Iraq and Syria. They provided general support field artillery fires to the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve and led the Joint Fires Cell – Syria. Their efforts resulted in over 100 precision rocket fires against enemy targets, effectively supporting coalition operations in the region.

“Our brigade’s focus on long-range precision fires and readiness was instrumental in supporting CJTF-OIR operations,” Lilley said. “Our efforts contributed to the success of coalition forces in the fight against terrorism.”

Furthermore, the brigade’s involvement in Operation Freedom Sentinel saw the successful retrograde of launchers and crews out of Afghanistan, reallocating resources to support Operation Spartan Shield, according to the citation. This strategic move demonstrated the brigade’s agility and adaptability in responding to changing operational requirements.

“The stronger our bases are, regardless of their location in the theater, the less likely it is for the enemy to attack,” Lilley said. “This concept revolves around creating hard targets. By quickly relaying information gathered by radar, anyone can act on it, signaling to the enemy that they face a world of hurt if they decide to attack.”

He further elaborated that our efforts significantly contributed to keeping servicemembers overseas safe and acted as a significant deterrent to those who would do us harm. 

Leadership in Command and Control Capabilities

The 115th Field Artillery Brigade Headquarters led significant improvements in operational planning. They maintained long-range communication links with the fire effects and coordination cell in the combined air operations center at Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar, enhancing the integration of high-mobility artillery rocket systems in routine rehearsals and air missile defense exercises.

The brigade’s efforts in improving command and control capabilities were essential in ensuring the effectiveness of long-range precision fires, Lilley said. Through constant communication and coordination, we enhanced our responsiveness to emerging threats in the region.

As a counterfire officer, Lilley’s team was responsible for ensuring radar movements were coordinated across the theater while establishing and managing missions on posts across the AOR.

“I didn’t encounter a single Soldier who lacked a strong desire to perform their absolute best every time they operated a radar,” Lilley said. “They saw the importance of their role. Whenever we had the chance to integrate those radars with other systems, they were immediately prepared to ensure it happened. We had numerous opportunities to improve the safety and security of Soldiers on those bases.”

He shared some experiences to ensure they were ready and, when needed, responded with lethal force.

“It’s challenging when you deploy in a situation that may or may not escalate into conflict,” Lilley said. “You don’t want to go to war, but if it happens, are your Soldiers ready to adapt and perform exceptionally? 

“My Soldiers answered with a resounding “yes,” he said. “Initially unsure if the deployment would be kinetic, they maintained their training and supported each other in various ways, such as enrolling in college classes and learning about the region’s culture and religion.”

They demonstrated professionalism by staying focused on their duties rather than engaging in less constructive activities, he said. 

“This is why this ceremony is so important. I believe it’s crucial to acknowledge what we achieved as a team,” he said. “While we’ve already recognized many individual Soldiers for their extraordinary actions during that deployment, this ceremony provided us with an opportunity to highlight how the unit came together as a team and invested their effort to bring peace to the area.” 

Additionally, the brigade’s establishment of a Fires Response Element in Kuwait and deployment of Q-53 Counterfire and Multi-Mission Radar in support of Operation Inherent Resolve further showcased their leadership in command and control capabilities.

115th more than a Centuries of Excellence

During his speech, Porter emphasized the exceptional accomplishments displayed by the Soldiers of the 115th Field Artillery Brigade. He underscored the unit’s commitment to serving the nation, highlighting the sacrifices made by Soldiers, Families, and employers alike. Porter praised the long-standing tradition of service in the Wyoming National Guard, acknowledged the brigade’s contributions to various historical conflicts, and emphasized their role as the “Sword and Shield” of the nation’s defense.

He said, “The history of the Wyoming National Guard is one of continuous service, from the Mexican Punitive Campaign to the Spanish-American War, the Philippines, both World Wars, the Berlin Crisis, the Korean War, Desert Shield and Storm, and the Global War on Terror. “The Wyoming Army National Guard’s enduring spirit and being the Sword and Shield of our nation’s defense shine brightly in our storied history.”

Overall, the meritorious unit citation awarded to the 115th reflects their outstanding contributions to security and stability in the CENTCOM AOR, according to Porter. Through their exemplary performance in theater security cooperation, long-range precision fires, and command and control capabilities, the brigade has set new standards for excellence, leaving a lasting impact on future operations in the region.

“My thanks to all of you who served during this time,” Porter said. I also appreciate all who have served over the years and set such a high standard and demanded excellence. My challenge to all who currently serve in the ranks is to carry this legacy proudly to new theaters, new fights, in the protection of our freedoms.”