Fort Benning soldiers demonstrate lethal firing power in Kuwait | Military
By Sgt. Christopher Johnston
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Soldiers of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted a brigade live-fire exercise at the Udairi Range Complex, Wednesday, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The exercise, named Hammer Strike, showcased the brigade’s firepower and capabilities.The unit's Kuwaiti counterparts attended the event to witness the Sledgehammer Brigade's combat power and coordination of multiple combat systems conducting simultaneous missions to across the battlefield. Among those missions was the complex task of breaching an obstacle.
"Breaching is one of the most dangerous operations an Army unit can do," said Capt. Stephen Harmon, commander of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd ABCT, 3rd ID. "Historically we've used many different vehicles to conduct a breach. Here we were able to utilize the Assault Breaching Vehicle and it can fill several key roles for us."
Breaching an obstacle such as barbed wire or a minefield in the past was a time consuming and extremely dangerous task. Soldiers were required to dismount from their vehicle, and either manually probe for mines, or toss a grappling hook out into the minefield and try to detonate mines as they reel in the hook.
The ABV, the Sledgehammer Brigade’s newest vehicle, puts an end to these practices. The ABV has an Abrams Main Battle Tank chassis, a 15-foot wide plow attached to the front, and is equipped with M58 MICLIC (Mine Clearing Line Charges). The MICLIC can shoot up to 150 meters, and is armed with C-4 explosives that are then detonated from within the ABV, keeping all personnel protected inside their vehicles.
Hammer Strike displayed the 3rd ABCT’s overall lethal firepower starting with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems launching rockets onto the battlefield combined with close air support provided by AH-64 Apache helicopters from the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade. Immediately after, an Abrams Main Battle Tank platoon maneuvered to a position to provide supporting fire, engaging and destroying enemy targets located near a minefield surrounded by concertina razor wire. With continuous suppressive fire bombarding the enemy, an engineer platoon, comprised of five Bradleys and an ABV, traversed the sandy landscape toward the minefield.
When the brigade command post confirmed that air space was clear, the ABV fired its missile, armed with C-4, across the minefield. The engineers then detonated the MICLIC, clearing a path wide enough for vehicles to safely pass through the minefield.
Once the engineer platoon breached the obstacle and clearly marked the lane for advancing forces, a second tank platoon followed while artillery and Apache helicopters continuously destroyed targets. A third platoon, consisting of Bradleys, raced across the desert toward two houses on the battlefield.
The back ramps lowered on two of the vehicles and infantrymen inside dismounted, cleared and secured the two houses. During the assault, the scenario called for two soldiers to sustain combat related injuries which required medical evacuations to occur.
Combat medics drove to the sight of the injured soldiers and provided immediate treatment before evacuating them to a nearby medical facility. Medical teams then loaded the patients onto a Black Hawk helicopter, escorted by two Apache helicopters, to be flown away from the battlefield.
Meanwhile, still being protected by continuous suppressive fire from ground forces and artillery, combined with support from two Air Force F-15 Eagles, the infantry squad continued to obtain their target and secure the two houses. With the target detained, the Sledgehammer soldiers left the site, ending the Hammer Strike exercise.
During the exercise the brigade fired more than 1,300 25 mm rounds and nearly 150 high explosive anti-tank, and armor piercing sabot rounds at enemy targets.
Sledgehammer soldiers have been training throughout the past four months for this event. They started with individual and squad training, and then conducted platoon and company level missions, followed by battalion sized exercises.
"There is one big plan, but it all comes down to the platoon level," said Cpl. Logan Steinbach, assigned to Destroyer Company, 1-15 Infantry, 3rd ABCT, 3rd ID. "Everyone knows what's going on and everyone has their part, and it's all lower level that gets this done."
“What we saw today was a synchronization of Soldiers, a synchronization of war fighters,” said Harmon. "Whether we are on this equipment or whether they are in the sky, we can synchronize and we came together to deliver a tremendous amount of combat power on the battlefield."
The Hammer Strike exercise demonstrated the armored brigade’s abilities to its Kuwaiti counterparts. One of the goals of conducting this event for the Kuwaiti military was to build upon the strong alliance between the U.S. and Kuwaiti forces which promotes peace and stability within the region.
"I would do whatever I could to keep that from coming my way if I were the enemy," said Staff Sgt. John Bittig, an infantryman assigned to 1-15 IN, 3rd ABCD, 3rd ID. "I said to my guys, ‘anyone on the receiving end of this isn't gonna make it out alive.’"