JBLM rocket battalion soon will head to Middle East site

Staff writerDecember 27, 2013 

Command Sgt. Maj. Cesar J. Zertuche, the command sergeant major for 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, cases the battalion colors Dec. 12 with Lt. Col. Luis M. Rivera, the 1-94 FA commander, during a casing ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

COURTESY PHOTO

About 300 Joint Base Lewis-McChord artillerymen are heading overseas for another deployment, but they’re not bound for Iraq or Afghanistan.

Soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 94th Artillery Regiment will serve a nine-month mission somewhere in the Middle East. They are leaving this weekend, their commander said Friday.

The Army is not publicly identifying their exact destination. The military has a number of assets in countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain that sometimes are protected by Army artillery.

The battalion has been preparing for the mission for much of the past year. It is part of the 17th Fires Brigade, which has other elements that also are expected to deploy to the Middle East in 2014.

“Seven months ago, this team, this excellent team of teams, received the deployment order and embraced it with all their heart, mind and soul,” battalion commander Lt. Col. Luis Rivera said at a deployment ceremony last week, according to an Army news story.

“Over these past months, we have undergone a rigorous, realistic and relevant training cycle that has prepared us for this different type of deployment,” Rivera said.

The battalion fields the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS), a mobile rocket launcher intended to allow artillerymen to fire the weapon and then conceal themselves from enemy fire.

The fires brigade has about 2,000 soldiers, many of whom have served extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the wars, the artillerymen would defend forward bases with their cannons or serve on infantry-like assignments patrolling communities.

Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646
adam.ashton@thenewstribune.com

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