Artillery Drill at Ft. Chaffee Prompts Noise Complaints

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Explosions so loud it woke many out of bed. 5NEWS learned the booms were caused by training at Fort Chaffee.  While many residents complained, military leaders call the noise the sound of freedom.

Those in the Arkansas National Guard say Fort Chaffee and its more than 65,000 acres of land is the premier artillery training center in the Army.

Every year fire brigades come to Fort Chaffee preparing for war. This week Colonel Troy Galloway says the 142nd Field Fire Brigade is training for combat.

“The 142nd Fire’s Brigade is one of the premier field artillery brigades in the Army and we’re happy to call Arkansas home,” said Col. Galloway.

Col. Galloway said the 155 Paladin cannons can travel more than 12 miles, but the Multiple Launch Rocket System can travel nearly 20 miles.

With noise heard from Clarksville to Van Buren, firing the loud booms left many in the River Valley complaining about the sound.

"Obviously when you're firing big weaponry like that it does draw complaints from the surrounding communities," said Major Chris Heathscott.

State Public Affairs Officer Maj. Chris Heathscott said the National Guard takes noise complaints very seriously.

"They went so far in the past to build pine plantations to kind of serve as a buffer,” said Maj. Heathscott. “They try to ensure that they work in cooperation with the weather so they don't have those low ceilings when they do fire because that will carry more noise."

Tuesday fire brigades demonstrated their weapons for Statewide Senior Retiree Leaders Day. To retired colonels like Laurence Stewart, the loud booms take on a different meaning.

“We call that the sound of freedom,” said Col. (Ret.) Stewart.

And military leaders say the training is necessary to create the number one defense force in the world.

"It's a small price to pay, in my opinion, to have that military force that's ready to stand up and serve whenever they're called upon," said Maj. Heathscott.

Colonels say the training is expected to wrap up by the end of the week. Maj. Heathscott says the last time the 155 Paladin cannons were fired in combat was during Desert Storm.

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