The Bayonet

Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012

Hammer Strike showcases brigade’s lethal firepower

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CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — Soldiers with 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team conducted a brigade live fire exercise Nov. 7 at the Udairi Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The Hammer Strike exercise 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 across the battlefield. Among those missions was the of breaching an obstacle.

“Breaching is one of the most dangerous operations an Army unit can do,” said Capt. Stephen Harmon, D Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, commander. “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 long and dangerous task. Soldiers were required to dismount from their vehicle, and either manually probe for mines or toss a grappling hook into the minefield and try to detonate mines as they reeled in the hook.

The ABV, the Sledgehammer Brigade’s newest vehicle, puts an end to that practice. The ABV has an Abrams Main Battle Tank chassis with a 15-foot wide plow attached to the front, and is equipped with M58 Mine Clearing Line Charges. The MICLIC can shoot up to 150 meters, and is armed with C-4 explosives that are detonated from within the ABV, keeping all personnel protected inside the vehicle.

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 wire. While laing down suppressive fire, an engineer platoon, comprised of five Bradleys and an ABV, traversed the 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. Engineers detonated the MICLIC, clearing a path wide enough for vehicles to safely pass through the minefield.

Once the engineer platoon breached the obstacle and marked the lane for advancing forces, a second tank platoon followed as artillery and Apache helicopters destroyed targets. A third platoon, consisting of Bradleys, maneuvered across the desert toward two houses on the battlefield.

With the back ramps lowered on two of the vehicles, Infantrymen dismounted, cleared and secured the two houses. The scenario called for two Soldiers to sustain injuries requiring medical evacuations.

Meanwhile, the Infantry squad continued to obtain their target and secure the houses. With the target detained, the Soldiers left the site, ending the Hammer Strike exercise.

“There is one big plan, but it all comes down to the platoon level,” Cpl. Logan Steinbach said. “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,” Harmon said. “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 the event was to build on 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,” Staff Sgt. John Bittig said. “I said to my guys, ‘anyone on the receiving end of this isn’t gonna make it out alive.’”

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