U.S. soldiers observe training at Moroccan field artillery center


In order to help improve the security of Morocco, 20 members of Morocco’s 15th Royal Artillery Group were trained to operate 60 M109A5 howitzers recently purchased through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.

At the request of the Royal Moroccan Field Artillery Training Center, an artillery tactics military-to-military exercise was executed in the cities of Fes and Guercie, March 4-10, to help provide the Moroccan soldiers with training on the maintenance, safety and firing of the M109A5 system.

Two Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, out of Fort Sill, Oklahama, volunteered to observe and provide subject matter expert guidance on the artillery training.

First Sergeant Kurt Douglas, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, and noncommissioned officer in charge of the exercise, said the mission was split between lectures on various topics regarding the M109A5 and live-fire exercises at the Royal Moroccan Field Artillery Training Center. The fire exercises included forward observer procedures, fire direction center procedures and gun line crew drills.

Douglas said the soldiers of the 15th RAG performed like consummate professionals, making it seem like they have been firing the M109A1, A2 and A3 systems for decades.
“They fully understand all gunnery concepts and developed effective techniques that ensures they achieve accuracy, thus demonstrating the mastery of gunnery concepts and techniques, but they are not able to execute some key tasks due to lack of associated equipment,” Douglas said.

Major Tyrone Martin, executive officer, 1st Batallion., 17th FAR, and the officer in charge of the mission, said despite the 15th RAG’s very limited budget, they have created innovative solutions for things U.S. Soldiers take for granted.
“They have a passion for artillery that we all should want to have. As they do not have the same technology as we are use to, they have a mastery of field artillery gunnery that sometimes I believe we take for granted due to our technology,” Martin said. “They approach field artillery much like we do, with the same doctrine and concepts in equipment, however their experiences and strategic objectives allow them to see the same event differently.”

Douglas also agrees this training with the 15th RAG provides allows him to see the same event through a different set of eyes.
“Training with another country always challenges our existing paradigms and viewpoints in regards to our profession as professional field artillerymen. They approach field artillery much like we do, with the same doctrine and concepts in equipment,” Douglas said. “However their experiences and strategic objectives allow them to see the same event differently. This will only make us better.”

The Moroccan soldiers expressed a strong interest in building and continuing current partnerships as well as creating new ones.
“This event built upon an already established close relationship between the two countries’ field artillery professionals. The Moroccans closely resemble our own field artillery doctrine as many of their officers have attended our Captains Career Course,” Martin said.

The M109A5 howitzer is an armored vehicle that is easily customized for specific mission requirements. It is the most common support weapon of maneuver brigades of armored and mechanized infantry divisions.