‘Fightin’ 4th’ Provides Divisional Fires to 1st Canadian Division Headquarters in South Korea

Article / December 21, 2016 / Project number: atl-2016-ar-divisional-fires

By Captain Graham Richards

To meet mandated High Readiness (HR) operational support to 1st Canadian Division (1st Cdn Div) in Kingston, Ontario, 4th Artillery Regiment (General Support), RCA (4 Regt (GS)) is responsible for a lot of training requirements.

The regiment is responsible for the leadership, synchronization and coordination of required individual training (IT) and collective training (CT) for a division-level Airspace Coordination Centre (ASCC), Fire Support Coordination Centre (FSCC), Surveillance and Target Acquisition Coordination Centre (STACC) and joint targeting expertise. Additionally, they are required to force generate a Division Artillery Commanding Officer to provide joint fires planning guidance and priorities, lead the joint targeting team on behalf of the Division Commander and oversee current operations fires staff.

1st Cdn Div, historically known as the “Red Devils”, provides a task-tailored, deployable, joint headquarters at high readiness to command and control joint, interagency, and multinational forces at home and abroad.

This past August, members of 4 Regt (GS) deployed with 1st Cdn Div to the Republic of Korea to participate in Exercise ULCHI FREEDOM GUARDIAN (Ex UFG), a computer-assisted exercise primarily comprised of South Korean and American forces that focuses on a hypothetical invasion of South Korea. It is one of the largest exercises of its kind with approximately 25,000 U.S. military members and representatives from nine other nations participating. The contingent from 4 Regt (GS) consisted of the Commanding Officer, LCol Krista Bouckaert, Capt Jared Gargano, Capt Chris Ker, Capt Graham Richards, Capt Jeremy Ricketts, WO Chris Armstrong, and MBdr Jeffery Grass.

The exercise began on August 15, 2016 in Kingston with a series of lectures to acquaint participants with the history, politics and culture of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, they were provided with the tactical scenario and began the operational planning process. On August 18, 2016, 1st Cdn Div departed from CFB Trenton for the long journey to Osan Air Base. From Osan, they travelled to Camp Yongin, the headquarters of the Third Republic of Korea Army (TROKA). After settling into tents, 1st Cdn Div HQ quickly began setup of the joint operations center (JOC), and began battle drills to ensure smooth operations throughout the exercise.

The exercise tactical scenario saw 1st Cdn Div, the U.S.’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) and 25th Infantry Division (25ID) serve as part of I Corps which operated under the command of TROKA. The contingent from 4 Regt (GS) quickly worked to integrate with their allied counterparts and familiarize themselves with joint allied operations and joint fire support. Additionally, they were able to hone our joint targeting skills with other key staff from 1st Cdn Div and fully incorporate the joint targeting cycle within the tactical scenario.

The members of 1st Cdn Div were fortunate enough to visit the War Memorial of Korea in downtown Seoul, as well as travel to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This was an enlightening experience that provided member with an opportunity to see first-hand the political and social climate between South Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) (North Korea). It became clear to all participants that this was not a simple exercise and that the enemy force icons on our planning maps were real.

After a week of preparation, the exercise officially began and 1st Cdn Div initiated 24 hour operations. The exercise provided the members of 4 Regt (GS) the unique opportunity to control and coordinate assets from our coalition partners including; M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Avenger Air Defence System and AH-64 Apache helicopters. The HIMARS was an excellent asset as it allowed for 1st Cdn Div to shape the ground battle with deep fires throughout all phases of the operation. Ex UFG provided a number of lessons learned, particularly the importance of air defence and Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) during joint operations. This was due to a single enemy ZSU-23-4 disrupting an attack by friendly AH-64s, which directly impacted the ground battle and 1st Cdn Div’s assault.

The tactical scenario ended on September 1, 2016, and the 4 Regt (GS) team returned to Gagetown later that week. Overall, Ex UFG provided an excellent opportunity for 4 Regt (GS) to conduct planning and operations within the context of an Army Group and Corps and they forward to providing continued operational support to 1st Cdn Div and represent The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery internationally.

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