What It Takes to Fire Rockets

During crew-level certification training with A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery, Capt. Jordan Riggio, A/2-20th FA Commander, explains what it takes to fire a rocket downrange. Much more complex than pushing a button, firing a rocket from the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) requires three teams comprised of soldiers from two separate career fields.

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Perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are today, if we had said to ourselves “Just go go go go go go go go go go.”

My name is Captain Riggio with the Alpha Battery 2nd Battalion 20th Field Artillery and what you’re gonna see today is a crew level qualification where we’re gonna test the ability of our crew to do what we say they can do and to put rounds down range. Basically, there’s three main components to this. I have my ammunition section, they’re the ones that come out they pick up the live ammunition from the ammunition holding point; bring it out to the field. Once that ammunition is on the ground a firing section will come out from the M270 Alpha One Launcher. They will pick those rounds up and put it into the weapons system which will ultimately allow me to put those rounds down range and put the rounds on the target. And behind me is the fire direction center. The fire direction center, those soldiers are the ones that actually do the computation of the data procedures and transmit the data to the launcher whether that be via voice, through a radio or digital through the radio systems. And that data is actually what tells the weapon system where lay an aim and how to put that round on a target. The 13 Mike MOS is diverse, there’s two different sections that you can go to. That’s either the ammunition section, which are soldiers that operate the HIMARS and the HEMATS. Those are the trucks that have the launcher pods on them. As a 13 Mike you’ll also be in the M270 Alpha One Launcher itself. The crews that are in the M270 Alpha One Launcher are responsible for safe loading and firing of that weapon system. So the 13 Juliets are the soldiers behind me in the fire direction center, also known as the FDC. They use the advanced field artillery tactile data system to deliver firing commands from their FDC to the M270 Alpha One Launcher. And that’s ultimately what tells the launcher where to put its LM, which is the launching module where to aim, and how to shoot that weapon. It is an amazing feeling to see that these soldiers have come such a long way in their training and are capable to make this milestone where they’re now putting live rockets down range and really it ensures that the equipment and the soldiers are ready to do what we say that they can do. Deep strike, tough as diamonds, fire strong.

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