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Artillery creates Forward Operating Base
TAG at Operation Jump Start

As you headed down the sandy road towards Artillery Firing Point 14 on Fort Dix you noticed something was different.

Barriers funneled you to an Entry Control Point where you are greeted by a sign ‘Welcome to FOB Steel’ while Soldiers carefully checked who and what entered. Once inside you notice the tents lined up neatly behind a semi-circle of artillery pieces, where the 230 Soldiers of the 3-112th Fires Battalion, 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) are living for two-weeks in the same place with their cannons. “It is a first time for us, we consolidated and made a FOB (Forward Operating Base),” said Lt. Col. Brian K. Scully, commander of the 112th.

Soldiers in the past slept in a separate bivouac area away from the guns, but now all the firing batteries, the headquarters and the support element shared in the duties of manning the gate, providing perimeter guards and having a Quick Reaction Force to respond to opposing forces attacks. All movement to and from the Forward Operating Base was done in convoys with road movement orders; and everything is done to the Army standard added Scully. “It is definitely different…more combat like,” said Spec. Shadiq Shakir, who has been with the battalion eight years. A lot more training has taken place not just with the guns.” The Warrior Task Training is an integral component of this year’s annual training period and those tasks are performed year round according to Scully.

It is especially important for the 3-112th Fires as batteries of this battalion have been deployed twice performing Military Police missions in Iraq, Germany and Italy. “It is a question of balance. We have to balance the nonstandard versus the standard FA (Field Artillery) mission. We are keeping the FA core competencies alive by the live fire we are doing,” noted Scully.

The gun crews did not mind the temperatures in the 90’s and high humidity as they eagerly awaited a fire mission. The radio cracked with coordinates of the target and the crew quickly adjusted the tube as Spc. James Urcinole, with his massive arms and upper body made it look easy to lift the nearly one hundred pound projectile onto the carrier. Within seconds the round was loaded into the breech, charge placed, the primer set, and lanyard attached and with a steady, swift movement Urcinole sent the round downrange as the ground shook around the 27-ton vehicle. One of the 330 rounds scheduled to land in the impact area could be the last from the 155mm guns of the New Jersey Guard’s M109A5 howitzers.

“This is kind of a history-making AT,” explained Scully. “After this we convert to the M119A2 105mm towed howitzer.” It was thought to be the last firing of the self propelled howitzers at last year’s AT as the 3-112th Field Artillery transformed into the 3-112th Fires Battalion.

“Things have a way of changing,” noted Scully, who along with the rest of the battalion eagerly await the new equipment. Master Sgt. Michael A. Steck, Jr. will not see the first firing of the towed guns as he turns 60 years old in November. This is the last AT for Steck, who has been a cannoneer since 1985 and despite his age, he is ready to serve. “I would do it in a minute; if they said tomorrow let's go, I’m there.”



Table of Contents
Volume 33 Number 3 Staff / Information
(c) 2007 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs