‘Thunderbolt’ Brigade merges HIRAINS into Rainier War exercise

By By Capt. Ian Sandall on November 24, 2021

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - Two M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) platoons from 17th Field Artillery Brigade had the opportunity to train alongside air crews with the 62nd Airlift Wing during Rainier War, at both Yakima, Washington, and Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah from Nov. 6-9.

Rainier War is an Air Force led, two week exercise that focuses on agile combat employment and high-end tactical training. This exercise enables the ability to rapidly deploy combat power anywhere in the world.

The joint exercise provided HIMARS crews the opportunity to train alongside air crews of the 62nd Airlift Wing to conduct HIMARS Rapid Infiltration or HIRAIN. HIRAIN operations test the forcible entry capability of the C-17 Globemaster III and HIMARS launchers as an operational and strategic strike package.

"Rainier War is a great opportunity for the battalion to conduct HIRAIN missions and improve our mobility practices to posture our force fires projection in the pacific area of operations," said Capt. Trevor Breitenbach, an operations officer with 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment.

From the "Deep Steel" tactical operations center at Yakima Training Center, Wash., Breitenbach conducted mission command and field artillery operations for the battalion.

With Breitenbach and his team at YTC, the Deep Steel forward elements, led by both Capt. Nolan Moore and Capt. Francis Buckley, battery commanders with 1-94 FAR, interfaced directly with the 62nd Airlift Wing.

Over the course of four days, C-17s transported the HIMARS units and their crews from McChord Field to Michael Army Airfield at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah, and Yakima Training Center, Wash., to simulate a theater environment. Once arrived, crews engaged a stationary target using the HIMARS to fire live rounds, and then were quickly extracted by C-17 from the launch sites, all within 45 minutes.

In a first for 17th Field Artillery Brigade, the launchers carried on the C-17s were loaded with live rockets to allow crews to train as they fight. "This is a first for the Brigade, and we will continue to apply lessons learned to future operations", said Maj. Willie Carnes, the Operations Officer for 17th FAB.

Breitenbach said Deep Steel soldiers at YTC found themselves tackling challenges in a dynamic exercise that tested their ability to manage ammunition resources and report information in an accurate and timely manner.

In addition to live-fire training, the crews at YTC worked with the 45th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Hazardous Response Company to train on decontamination procedures and how to continue their mission in a chemical environment.

"We look forward to any chance to work with our sister services in joint operations training," said Breitenbach, adding that the Deep Steel Battalion consistently trains to integrate with partner militaries in support of I Corps and U.S. Army Pacific.

Follow the story and soldiers of the 17th FA Brigade at www.facebook.com/17thFieldArtilleryBrigade.