Odierno Celebrates Past, Future of Field Artillery During Ceremony

WASHINGTON — The com­man­der of U.S. Forces Com­mand said he expects the field artillery­man to lead the way in devel­op­ing inno­v­a­tive solu­tions for the future joint force.
Army Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no cel­e­brat­ed the role of field artillery sol­diers in the his­to­ry and the future of the mil­i­tary in a keynote speech dur­ing a May 19 cer­e­mo­ny mark­ing the 100th anniver­sary of the open­ing of the field artillery branch’s School of Fire on Fort Sill, Okla.

Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, U.S. Joint Forces Command commander
Army Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no, U.S. Joint Forces Com­mand com­man­der and field artillery offi­cer, talks about the past, the present and the future of Field Artillery sol­diers, May 19, 2011, Fort Sill, Okla.
U.S. Army pho­to by Kei­th Pan­nell
Click to enlarge

“Our sol­diers are being asked to do more beyond their core com­pe­ten­cy,” Odier­no said. “Artillery for­ma­tions have adapt­ed and deliv­ered, whether it be counter-fires units, or be it as infantry in oth­er units, trans­porta­tion com­pa­nies or lead­ing the way in con­duct­ing civ­il mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, artillery units con­tin­ue to answer the call as an inte­gral part of our com­bined force.”

The gen­er­al said war­fare has changed, and the field artillery must change with it. But sol­diers must be mind­ful of the past to appre­ci­ate the change.

Speak­ing to a ver­i­ta­ble who’s who of for­mer and cur­rent field artillery lead­ers, Odier­no said the oper­a­tions tem­po will not slow down, and nei­ther will the respon­si­bil­i­ty placed on field artillery sol­diers, like those cur­rent­ly in class­es at Fort Sill’s Field Artillery School.

“To suc­ceed in an often chaot­ic and decen­tral­ized com­bat envi­ron­ment, we will demand more of our junior offi­cers, our non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers and our sol­diers at the tip of the spear,” he said. “As we move into the sec­ond cen­tu­ry of field artillery, the path ahead will become increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult, but increas­ing­ly vital.”

The gen­er­al said efforts must be pri­or­i­tized and risks must be iden­ti­fied and assumed in areas where the Army may not be able to do as much as hoped. He not­ed that inno­v­a­tive solu­tions must be found to mit­i­gate those risks.

Odier­no was at Fort Sill to take part in the annu­al Fires Sem­i­nar and to help cel­e­brate the field artillery cen­ten­ni­al. After his keynote speech, Odier­no watched as a mon­u­ment was unveiled ded­i­cat­ing the orig­i­nal three-room School of Fires to Army Capt. Dan T. Moore, “The Father of Field Artillery.” The build­ing was built in 1911.

Mon­u­ments were also unveiled for the 50th anniver­sary by a grad­u­ate of the 1961 Offi­cer Can­di­date School class, Wal­ter Zarem­ba and for the 100th anniver­sary by 2nd. Lt. Eric Nall, Field Artillery School stu­dent and youngest field artillery offi­cer in the Army.

Odier­no said he has one stand­out mem­o­ry of his days at the Fort Sill artillery school from Jan­u­ary to July 1980.

“I hate to admit this,” but what I remem­ber most about that time is that we had T-shirts made at the end of it that said, ‘We sur­vived 100 straight days of 100 degrees,’” he said. “That was a rough year here at Fort Sill.”

Odier­no said he is proud of his field artillery her­itage, not­ing that it exposed him “to a vari­ety of expe­ri­ences that pro­vid­ed a foun­da­tion of skills and oppor­tu­ni­ties that allowed me to devel­op, not only as a per­son, but as a pro­fes­sion­al.”

Odier­no described the branch as “ded­i­cat­ed, adapt­able, deci­sive and trust­wor­thy” and has come to appre­ci­ate the diver­si­ty found in field artillery units around the Army.

At the end of the cel­e­bra­tion, Odier­no fired one round from a mod­el 1897 French 75mm field can­non, belong­ing to the Field Artillery Half Sec­tion, to sig­nal the start of the next 100 years for the field artillery branch.

(Kei­th Pan­nell is edi­tor of the Fort Sill Can­noneer.)

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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