The Army Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, houses entry-level and career courses for artillery and air defense. Soldiers that school trains will likely be the ones sensing, reacting and firing in Large Scale Combat Operations in the coming years, should a big fight break out.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth Kamper, FCOE commander, shared updates on the center with Army Times ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting and exposition.
The question and answer section below has been edited for clarity and space.
Tell Army Times readers about any significant developments at FCOE since October 2020.
We held our second-ever Virtual Fires Conference from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. The virtual option allowed us to reach over 17,000 people across nine countries. On the air defense artillery side, the first Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense platoon was fielded in Europe in early 2021 with all four battalions worth of M-SHORAD planned to be fielded by mid-2024.
This summer, the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, alongside the Air and Missile Defense Cross Functional Team and the Army Test and Evaluation Command, brought a laser-equipped Stryker to Fort Sill as part of its Directed Energy M-SHORAD Combat Shoot-Off. This was the first combat application of lasers for a maneuver element in the Army.
For Field Artillery, the Army announced the establishment of the Theater Fires Command and Multi-Domain Task Force in Europe. Those organizations will help U.S. Army Europe and Africa synchronize joint fires and effects and control future long range fires across all domains in Europe.
We also have a role in two other efforts — the establishment of three long range fires battalions, three long range hypersonic weapons batteries, four mid-range capable batteries, and Precision Strike Missile-enabled High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and Multiple Launch Rocket System battalions.
How is FCOE adapting its work and mission given the renewed emphasis on LRPF and ADA work within Army formations at echelon, especially at the division and corps level?
While many of the previously mentioned capabilities will exist to support the Theater/Corps and Strategic level, we are also growing our relationship with each of the Combat Training Centers.
And just recently, [we] held our first Fires Warfighting Forum, that included the V Corps Commanding General and representatives from all CTCs, along with the field artillery commandant.
What should soldiers headed to FCOE know about the work being done there now, especially contrasted with 10-20 years ago?
Our basic training brigade still turns civilians into soldiers every day, while our FA and ADA training brigades, along with our Marine Detachment, enable the development of a professional fires force — soldiers and Marines — in Advanced Individual Training, Basic Officer Leader’s Course, Captain’s Career Courses, and Warrant Officer Professional Military Education. Fort Sill is home to two FORSCOM Brigades — 75th FA BDE and 31st ADA BDE — who train for worldwide deployment.
Our two Cross Functional Teams are the likely organizations at Fort Sill that they wouldn’t recognize. Representing two of the top five modernization priorities for the Army, these organizations provide countless opportunities for leaders to work at the forefront of fires modernization.
Another newly formed organization is the Army Multi-Domain Targeting Center. With the resurgence of targeting to support large scale combat operations, the AMTC supports the integration of joint fires and executes force modernization for targeting.
Soldiers can attend the following courses: JITD (Joint Intermediate Target Development), TMP (Target Material Production) and JOFEC (Joint Operational Fires and Effects Course).
Lastly, what’s in store, noteworthy for FCOE in the coming year?
In order for many of the capabilities I’ve already mentioned to come to fruition, we’ve got to ensure we’ve got the right leaders in the right place, at the right time; that facilities are ready to receive these different types of equipment; and that the Army can sustain them.
New training — some of which will be with our sister services — will ensure we have the right, fully trained, operators in these new roles. We’re developing doctrine closely with our sister services to ensure we can employ joint capabilities. There’s a lot of conditions-setting that must happen before we can employ these capabilities.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.