Spread across multiple countries in the Middle East, soldiers with crucial critical-thinking skills are working behind the scenes to keep Patriot missile units ready and lethal.
These soldiers, from the headquarters battalion of 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, trained recently on Fort Bragg ahead of their deployment to undisclosed locations in Southwest Asia. They will deploy early next year to manage technological assets and train partner nations on air-defense artillery equipment.
The deployment is expected to be nine months and is part of a regular rotation to the region.
As the command center for air defense artillery, the headquarters unit will coordinate and synchronize movements for its battalions. That can mean figuring out how to remove a soldier from theater, getting replacement parts for a broken missile launcher or transporting missiles to units that expend their supply.
“It seems like mundane problems, but in the grand scheme of things, you can’t fight if you don’t have the resources,” said Maj. Kevin Werry, operations officer.
The training challenged these soldiers to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Each of the scenarios they were given mirror what could occur on a deployment, Werry said.
“Air Defense Artillery supports missions in Europe, Southwest Asia and the Pacific,” he said. “We’re ready to defend against any country that would threaten any of our allies.”
In one region alone, they resource the fight for Patriot missile battalions across more than 4 million square miles, from Northeast Africa to the Middle East to Central and South Asia.
With adversarial relationships among neighboring states and widespread ethnic struggles, the Pentagon has said the region is among the least secure and stable in the world.
Col. Joseph McCallion Jr., commander of 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, said although missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have drawn down, the mission for air-defense artillery brigades remains critical.
“Having U.S. forces there assisting these governments with their local air missile defense is a sign of American resolve to keep them as stable partners,” McCallion said. “It’s a sign of American commitment to our partners in the region, as well as helping to keep stability.”