RENA, Norway -- Combined Arms Company lobbed 155 mm rounds into the Norwegian sky during M777 Howitzer live-fire training Feb. 23, in preparation for Exercise Cold Response 16 later this month. The exercise will include 12 NATO allies and partner nations, approximately 16,000 troops and provides a platform to refine collective crisis response capabilities.
The Marines withdrew the Howitzers from caves in central Norway where they are stored and maintained as part of Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway.
“The Norwegians have done a great job with the maintenance of the weapons and we’re just out here to make sure they function,” said 1st Lt. David Christie, executive officer of Charlie Battery.
The Marines began by setting up the artillery in a Norwegian-provided gun position while Marine forward observers placed themselves near the impact zone, five miles away.
Once in place, the Marines conducted calibration and registration of the weapons.
"We have a known point on the deck out in the impact area, and our goal is to fire at it until we hit that point spot on,” said Christie. “That way we can correct any miscalculations that may be caused by the cold temperature or any other non-standard conditions.”
After setup was complete, the Marines received the first fire mission from the Fire Direction Center and broke the data down, adjusting for direction and elevation. The Marines loaded a round into the Howitzer and fired.
“The shoot enables us to see what kind of challenges we have and work out all of the kinks,” said Sgt. Gino Morato, section chief with Combined Arms Company.
The Marines will continue to prepare for Exercise Cold Response 16, where they will provide indirect-fire support for infantry Marines.
“Whatever the infantry battalions down range need, we use the Howitzers solely for their support,” said Morato. “Whether they need fire or smoke, we can do it.”
The shoot will allow the Marines to add to their skill set of working in a cold weather environment and strengthen the bonds they have with their Norwegian partners.
“The Norwegians have been very hospitable and supportive,” said Christie. “Being here shows our NATO partners and allies that we’ve got a vested interest in them and we’ll be here to support them if the need arises.”