TAPA, Estonia — A U.S. Army-led High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, live-fire exercise demonstrated the weapons system’s capabilities and enhanced allied interoperability with NATO allies in Estonia, Sept. 27, 2023.
U.S. Army Soldiers with Task Force Voit, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, supporting the 3rd Infantry Division, demonstrated M142 HIMARS operations to multinational troops comprising NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Estonia during the exercise at the Estonian Defense Force’s Central Training Area .
The Task Force Voit Soldiers demonstrated the capabilities of the HIMARS to NATO allies while conducting gunnery qualification on the system.
The live-fire demonstration followed months of multinational training, with Estonian troops training on the platform side-by-side with U.S. Soldiers in recent months at Camp Tapa. The training also coincided with Estonian Defense Forces purchasing HIMARS from the U.S. late last year to enhance its military’s operational capabilities.
Maj. Jeremy Rathbun, the executive officer for 3-27th Field Artillery Regiment, said his unit has been cross-training with NATO allies since they arrived in Estonia in June. Some of this training took place in the week prior to the exercise, with U.S. and Estonian troops participating in a simulated contested environment HIMARS training scenario, according to Rathbun.
Rathbun said the live-fire exercise set a foundation for the 3-27th Field Artillery Regiment’s real-world HIMARS capabilities and its readiness for future missions, operations, and exercises with NATO partners.
Staff Sgt. Austin Quiñones, a HIMARS crew section chief with 3-27th Field Artillery Regiment, said the HIMARS training with Estonians and the live-fire exercise increased his Soldiers’ readiness.
“The training value for my crews participating in this exercise, like with my crew specifically, they’ve never been overseas before; this is their first time,” Quiñones said. “They get to see not only what it’s like to be overseas, but helping the allies as well, and seeing what they’re really doing this stuff for. [It’s] not just checking a box that we’re certified — this is real world stuff that we’re doing.”
Quiñones added that the HIMARS training also enhanced interoperability with U.S. allies.
“It’s important to train with our allies, especially when we’re in their country,” Quiñones said. “If something were to happen, we need to be able to work together and efficiently. Even if something doesn’t happen, we’re building these bonds with them. They can see that it’s not just our countries that are allies, we’re allies too, on a personal level.”
Rathbun said the culminating live-fire demonstration shows the U.S. Army’s unwavering commitment to its allies.
“For them to come out here and witness the live-fire and the capabilities of the HIMARS platform is just a demonstration of our commitment to the mission here in Estonia,” Rathbun said.
Task Force Voit Soldiers, who continue to train with NATO allies in the Baltic, support the 3rd Infantry Division-led Task Force Marne. The 3rd Infantry Division’s mission in Europe is to engage in multinational training and exercises across the continent, working alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps, America’s forward deployed corps in Europe.
By SGT Cesar Salazar Jr.
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