U.S. Army Conducts HIMARS Live-Fire Training at Yakima Training Center
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER – By the time the three soldiers emerged from the HIMARS – High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – which they operate, they had been on the job for more than 24 hours straight.
After waking up in the middle of the night the night before at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, they had flown with the HIMARS – basically a rocket launcher or missile launcher mounted on a 5-ton truck – and deployed to Yakima Training Center to test their vehicle and themselves.
“It’s been tiring,” sergeant. says Anthony Phalon. “But you get used to it, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time.”
They spent hours locked in the cab of the truck, performing maneuvers with their unit – the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment – simulating combat against an adversary with similar weapon capabilities.
“What makes the (1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment) more unique is the rigorous training we do,” said Battery Commander Captain Trevor Breitenbach. “They are subject to the worst possible situation we could give them.”
Despite the long hours, crew morale was high. A few minutes later, they performed a live-fire test, sending rockets hovering. The test was the result of months of work and preparation by the battalion.
“Our soldiers have worked tirelessly over the past 11 months to really prepare for this culminating event here at the YTC,” said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Grady Lowe. “They face a broad opposing force that replicates the threats an adversary would have in a real-world conflict. This results in them conducting live fire at platoon and battery level.
HIMARS has been used in actual conflicts. The United States supplied the weapon to Ukraine, where it was used to attack Russian supply lines and logistics centers. Lowe said it was also used in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
HIMARS is one of the US military’s primary weapons systems, Lowe added, due to its maneuverability and range. It can reach about 60 miles with rockets or nearly 190 miles with missiles and can launch and change location in about five minutes, Breitenbach said.
This range is one of the reasons HIMARS is tested at YTC. At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, there simply isn’t enough room to conduct live-fire training. At the YTC, the U.S. military can safely use reduced-range test rockets.
The rockets cost around $100,000 per launch, according to Al-Jazeera. Training at the YTC, however, used test rockets. While the US government promised more HIMARS for Ukraine, the units tested at YTC were intended for US military use.
The 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment is regularly deployed on training exercises with countries in the Indo-Pacific region – such as Indonesia or the Philippines – and is ready for deployment throughout the Pacific, if necessary.
Jasper Kenzo Sundeen’s reporting for the Yakima Herald-Republic is possible with support from Report for America and community members via the. For more information on reposting, email [email protected]