U.S. Army Soldiers from various companies assigned to Task Force Iron Gray, in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), and French Forces assigned to 5e Overseas Interarms Regiment (RIAOM) participated in a joint mortar live fire exercise at the Djiboutian Range
Complex, Djibouti, May 25, 2021.
Joint live fire exercises allow the United States to build regional cooperation with its allies in order to work together and improve each nation's fighting force.
"The purpose of this training was to build cohesion between the French and U.S. forces," said U.S. Army Capt. Shane Wilson, Task Force Iron Gray Fire Support Officer. "We were able to work together and see what the French Forces do versus what we do, and how we can improve one another."
Both Task Force Iron Gray and 5e RIAOM used 120mm mortar systems for the training. Cpt. Wilson said using similar systems allows for both units to
observe new ways to conduct mortar training and to view variations in each country's procedures.
"It's good to work with the French and see their procedures, especially in terms of safety, what they do for communications and their fire directions
center, and how they put each piece together," said Capt. Wilson. "They didn't have fire supporters out on the hill to do the same as we do with
ours, so it was good to see how their process works and how they communicate with one another."
During the training, the lightweight counter mortar radar (LCMR) team was strategically placed at an observation point with a clear view of both
units' mortar positions and the impact area. The LCMR team was able to track all rounds fired by the U.S. and French mortars which provided realistic
cross-training for Soldiers that are not traditionally radar operators.
This training was the first mortar live fire exercise Task Force Iron Gray conducted with French Forces.
A platoon with the East Africa Response Force (EARF) with Task Force Iron Gray, in support of CJTF-HOA, also conducted a joint live fire exercise with
French Forces assigned to 5e RIAOM on May 17, 2021. The live fire utilized small arms and light weapons, alongside the French Force's armored heavy weapons vehicles.
"We successfully conducted a break contact exercise with French Forces from an enemy that had more personnel than we did," said Pfc. Erik Cravo, an automatic rifleman assigned to the EARF.
Cravo said the joint live fire was a great experience for the EARF because it was the first time most of them have ever worked with allied forces and it was a great opportunity to learn different tactics from the French.
Conducting joint live fire exercises is beneficial to strengthening relationships with our partner nations. Both of these exercises are part of the continuing collaboration and preparation for the future joint combined arms live fire exercise.