Camp Williams Resumes

Artillery Exercises

 

By LTC Hank McIntire

 

Published April 18, 2011

 

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Three M109A6 Paladin howitzers take aim during a 640th RTI artillery exercise at Camp Williams April 16.

Photo by LTC Hank McIntire

Three M109A6 Paladin howitzers take aim during a

640th RTI artillery exercise at Camp Williams April 16.

CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah — For the first time since the Sept. 19 Herriman Fire, the Utah National Guard conducted live-fire artillery operations Apr. 15-16.

In the aftermath of the Herriman Fire, which burned more than 4,500 acres (the total area affected on Camp Williams and in Herriman) Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, adjutant general of the Utah Guard, had directed that Camp Williams discontinue live-fire operations on its ranges.

After a comprehensive review of its live-fire procedures, Camp Williams officials announced that small-arms and crew-served weapons operations would resume Nov. 4 and that artillery fire would resume in the spring of 2011.

This weekend’s exercise consisted of training for 13B Cannon Crewmembers and 13F Fire Support Specialists, all students at the 640th Regional Training Institute, which is based at Camp Williams.

Local residents, city officials and media came to Camp Williams to observe the exercises April 16.

The reason for the cessation of live-fire operations was to determine how Camp Williams should adjust its procedures to ensure that every possible precaution is taken to ensure safety in range operations.

MAJ Darcy Burt, of the 640th RTI, briefs visitors on the purpose and capabilities of the M109A6 Paladin howitzers. 

Photo by LTC Hank McIntire

MAJ Darcy Burt, of the 640th RTI, briefs visitors on the

purpose and capabilities of the M109A6 Paladin howitzers.

Previous to the fire, Camp Williams monitored on-site, real-time, weather-station data to include wind direction and speed, temperature and humidity.

Updated procedures now include a four-times-daily check for red-flag wind warnings, as well as a shift in emphasis from real-time weather data to giving heavier weight to forecasted data in the decision-making process. This applies to all aspects of training and not just live-fire operations.

Also, units at all levels will be empowered to make decisions at any stage of training when concerns arise about the safety and prudence of conducting a training event.

Four separate investigations into the Herriman Fire are in various stages of completion:

   - Internal Review

   - Commander’s Inquiry (15-6)

   -  U.S. Army Safety Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama

   -  State of Utah Fire Marshall

 

"Until all the investigations have been completed and reviewed by local, state and federal officials, it would inappropriate to comment on the findings of these inquiries or on how the costs of fighting the fire will ultimately be assigned," said Lt. Col. Hank McIntire, spokesman for the Utah National Guard.

Local medial were in attendance at the Camp Williams artillery exercise April 16. 

Photo by LTC Hank McIntire

Local medial were in attendance at the

Camp Williams artillery exercise April 16.

In a news conference held at Camp Williams Nov. 3, mayors of four of the communities that border Camp Williams—Bluffdale, Eagle Mountain, Herriman and Lehi—all expressed support of the full spectrum of training activities there, understanding the need to maintain a trained a ready force to respond to protect our citzens here at home and abroad.

"Camp Williams was here before several of our cities even existed," said Eagle Mountain Mayor Heather Jackson, as quoted in the Nov. 5 edition of the Deseret News. "It’s important to us that we preserve [it]."

"We appreciate the support of the citizens of our surrounding communities," said McIntire. "We have trained at Camp Williams since 1914. Without their support we could not provide the training necessary for our Soldiers to succeed in their federal and state mission to protect our citizens."

Going forward, Utah Guard officials have identified the following specific items as appropriate adjustments to existing practices so that Guardmembers can safely resume critical training activities:

    • Active monitoring of Red Flag Conditions and other Hazardous weather conditions
      • Severe-weather E-mails will push NOAA warnings to Range Control officials monitoring conditions
      • Large TV in Range Control that constantly shows updated weather conditions and forecasts from the NOAA website
      • New procedure in notifying units of incoming weather hazards and conditions (Net Call)
      • The fire weather computer is checked every hour while Fire Desk is operational (May through October)
    • Range Control will notify outside agencies of a fire on Camp Williams as soon as it is reported.
    • Daily meeting with Range Control staff and Fire Management Officer (FMO)
      • Discussion of fire dangers and countermeasures (April-October)
      • What firefighting assets are available (April-October)
    • New Range Check-in/Check-Out Procedures
      • Unit must show Composite Risk Matrix, incorporating current weather
      • Only the Officer in Charge or Range Safety Officer may draw the range from Range Control
    • Downrange Safety and Quality Control procedures
      • Units live firing will have a safety and quality control check at the range during live fire by Range Control personnel
    • An M109A6 Paladin howitzer crew prepare to fire at their target during a 640th RTI artillery training exercise April 16. 

      Photo by LTC Hank McIntire

      An M109A6 Paladin howitzer crew prepare to fire at their

      target during a 640th RTI artillery training exercise April 16.

      New Fire-Condition Restrictions
      • No live-fire or spark-producing activities during red-flag conditions without the approval of the Adjutant General.
      • No live-fire or spark-producing activities during Extreme conditions without the approval of the post commander.
      • UTNG aircraft on shortened response time during red-flag, Extreme, and High fire conditions
    • New Signs on Ranges
      • Signs will clearly identify each range and make clear what weapons are authorized for use on that range. (completed no later than 15 May 2011)
    • Updated Range Binders
      • Show picture of the range to fire on.
      • Has copy for Safety Danger Zone (SDZ) in the binder
 
     

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