Over the weekend, Mr. Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys together with Mark Wilf, the owner of the Minnesota Vikings provided complimentary game tickets for Saturday night’s game to our U.S. Army Missile Defense Soldiers who have just returned from a hard 12-month tour of duty in the heat of the Middle East. These specific Soldiers were from the 4-5 ADA Battalion of the 69th ADA Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas. Five hundred of them have returned over the past two weeks. During their deployment on foreign soil, they endured sandstorms and days that reached 140 degrees with high humidity, received no combat pay, enjoyed no R&R time. But through this hardship, their resilience as a team maintained excellent readiness and fulfilled their successful mission to enable freedom of movement and defense of our U.S. Armed Forces stationed there to deter and preserve peace with Iran. Read more about the 4-5’s homecoming here.
In addition, MDAA hosted the 2015 Texas Breakfast of Champions in Fort Worth last Friday morning, honoring these commands and their best air defense crews from Texas, and recognized the vital role the state of Texas plays in the global missile defense mission. Texas hosts the Army’s Air and Missile Defense Command for CENTCOM, the 32nd AAMDC commanded by Brigadier General Don Fryc, and two Brigades, the 11th out of Fort Bliss and the 69th out of Fort Hood. Theses bases serve as home to the single biggest portion of our Patriot battalions and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries. All of the U.S. land-based missile defense capability deployed today throughout four Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE are commanded, supplied and manned by the 32nd AAMDC out of Fort Bliss. The 32nd Command reports and advises the U.S. Air Force Commander for CENTCOM and the CENTCOM Combatant Commander on integrated missile defense for the U.S. Forces based in the region against the Iranian threat. Considering Iran’s growing arsenal of over 800 ballistic missiles arrayed against the region, it is a role of tremendous responsibility.
The lone star state also represents the historic birthplace of U.S. Army Air Defense. It was at Ft. Bliss that the modern Air Defense Artillery School was founded in 1968, and provided training to all ADA soldiers for decades before moving to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 2010. The 32nd AAMDC’s two Texas-based Air Defense Brigades include the 11th “Imperial” Brigade, and the 69th “First to Fire” Brigade. The 11th ADA Brigade is the single largest and most deployed air defense unit in the world, and operates the only U.S. Army Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) units.
As we celebrate Texas’s role in missile defense and the accomplishments of the 32nd AAMDC, we must take serious note of the intense burden and sacrifice our U.S. Army ADA Soldiers and Branch face. Global demand for these limited missile defense assets has forced the men, women and families of the ADA to make unequal sacrifices as they face significantly longer and more frequent than average deployments. Deployments for air defense Soldiers last twelve months, compared to nine month deployments the other Army branches conduct. These long deployments are a direct result of a lack of capacity. Currently, nearly 60% of the U.S. Army’s Patriot missile defense battalions are deployed at any one time. This is nearly double the 33% deployment ratio called for by U.S. Army deployment doctrine.
Much of this fault lies with sequestration and international politics, which has forced the Army to stretch its limited resources to continue its current worldwide missions, rather than say no to existing missions. Some of these missions have worn out their effectiveness, and have become based more on political considerations rather than military practicality and threat-based prioritizing.
To reduce the burden, our nation must either reduce the demand by bringing forward deployed units back to the United States or invest to increase the number of Patriot battalions available for deployment and make them more proficient. What remains a serious challenge to the Army ADA Branch is to ensure an additional Patriot testing battalion to field the newly modernized and efficient Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), new interceptors such as the Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE), and radar upgrades to stay ahead of the growing threat from Iran and North Korea.
We were honored on Friday to recognize the most outstanding warfighters and engineers in the state of Texas for 2015.
Best THAAD CREW
CW2 Joshua A. Vance
SGT Forrest P. Moncrief
SPC Dylan J. Lones
69th ADA Brigade
Best Patriot Crew
1LT Kariangelie Rodriguez
SGT Joshua Fitch
SPC Franklin Aldridge
Richard White (Chief Engineer, LM Air and Missile Defense Programs)
Wayne Trimmier (Deputy PM, PAC3 Programs)
Doug Walker (LM Fellow, THAAD Program)