By Army Spc. Chelsea Baker, South Carolina National Guard
/ Published November 20, 2017
Colombian army leaders joined the South Carolina Army National Guard during a live-fire exercise with the 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery Regiment, at the McCrady Training Center here, Nov. 18.
The exchange was part of the South Carolina National Guard’s State Partnership Program with Colombia. This was the first time the Colombians observed the M109A6 Paladin 155 mm howitzer in a live-fire exercise. The Colombian army is seeking to enhance their field artillery structure and learn more about a U.S. Army field artillery battery.
Series of Visits
“This is the culmination of a series of visits where the South Carolina National Guard was able to help the Colombian army understand how the U.S. Army utilizes artillery on the battlefield,” said Army Lt. Col. David King, State Partnership Program director for South Carolina.
South Carolina Army National Guardsmen have visited Colombia to assess the Colombian army field artillery program, and the Colombian army has sent soldiers to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to tour the Fires Center of Excellence.
Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston., the adjutant general for South Carolina; South Carolina State Command Sgt. Maj. Russ Vickery; and other members of the command group welcomed the Colombian delegation, which included the commander of the Colombian army’s 10th Brigade, Brig. Gen. Cesar Augusto Parra. Army Lt. Col. Michael Gibson, commander of the 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery Regiment, provided an overview of the exercise before firing commenced with the Paladins.
“We were looking forward to the Colombians’ visit and were really pleased that they could come and see our training,” Gibson said. “This not only allows us an opportunity to assist and answer their questions, it also gives us a different perspective of their field artillery organization.”
High Explosive Projectiles
During the training, the guardsmen fired 64 high explosive projectiles, which can travel up to seven miles.
”This live-fire exercise was a very valuable part of our visit,” Parra said “The Colombian military is going through a transformation and wants to become more interoperable with U.S. forces. It was a great opportunity for the members of the Colombian delegation to see this training, as one day these company commanders will be commanding battalions.”
The Colombian field artillery capability was initiated around the 1900’s. Their firing techniques are very similar to those of the U.S. military, but they are seeking to learn ways to improve their procedures since they do not have the M109A6 Paladin model.
“The goal is to help Colombia enhance their field artillery capabilities as they look to the future,” King explained.