Western Strike provides opportunity for Wyoming radar unit

Jun 15, 2018

One of the Wyoming Army National Guard’s newest units made good use of resources and opportunity provided by the Arkansas Army National Guard’s Western Strike exercise at Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center this month.

The 115th Field Artillery Brigade’s Target Acquisition Platoon stood up about 1 1/2 years ago, and while its soldiers are trained and ready to track projectiles flying through the air with mobile radar equipment, the group has not yet received the equipment it needs to do the job.

Soldiers discuss radar
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeff Cromwell, Wyoming Army National Guard target acquisition platoon commander, talks with his Arkansas counterpart, Warrant Officer 1 Tanner Jones at Camp Guernsey’s North Training Area during the Arkansas Army Guard’s brigade-level Western Strike exercise. The states both had shortfalls and were able to fill them with one another’s personnel and equipment. (Wyoming Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy McGuire)

When leaders from the Arkansas field artillery brigade visited Guernsey earlier this year to lock down plans for its exercise, it was noted their radar unit might be shorthanded.

Subsequently, the Wyoming team came up on the radar and Camp Guernsey staff suggested Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeff Cromwell, the target acquisition platoon commander, get in touch with his Arkansas counterpart, Warrant Officer Tanner Jones.

“They have two radar systems and they said our personnel could run one during the exercise,” Cromwell said. “We were supposed to get ours when we stood up, but it got reallocated to another Army unit. We have been told we will be receiving it in the first quarter of 19.” Cromwell’s unit’s mission was previously done by a Minnesota Guard unit.

“They’re helping us and we’re helping them,” Jones said of the arrangement. “It is absolutely helpful having two teams, so we have checks and balances.”

Over the past week, the crews were in the thick of it, as thousands of artillery rounds and rockets launched from all over the North Training Area were received as digital data by the radar crews and their radar-fed software.

“Basically, the radar will pick up the rounds in the air and the system calculates the point of origin and the impact,” Cromwell explained. “We can even get a pretty good idea of what types of rounds were fired. We can track enemy and friendly fire and provide data for counterfire measures.”

“We can really see everything in the air,” Jones added. “With two systems going, we have an extra layer of security and safety, and excellent data for the (tactical operations center) for counterfire measures.”

“This is a great opportunity,” Cromwell said. “This is the first opportunity for our crew to get on the new radar set. So we’re getting to learn while doing our real-world mission up here. Their guys brought us right in and made us part of the group. Our guys had learned on an older system. The schoolhouses are always last to get the new equipment.”

Regardless, Cromwell said, the basics of the job have stayed traditionally the same. One part of that is packing up and moving at least once a day.

“Survival is huge,” he explained. “We have to figure out what the enemy is doing and move before they know where we are.”

“Wyoming has been great to us, supporting us with personnel and a medic team,” Jones added.

The teams are already planning to train together again.

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