“There’s an urgent need for air defense, but of course also many other capabilities: precision guided ammunition, HIMARS and other advanced modern NATO-standard systems. And we see that they are making a difference and we see that Ukrainian soldiers are able to utilize these modern systems in a very effective way, making gains on the battlefield.” – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, October 11, 2022
Last week, we had the privilege to visit Fort Bliss, Texas, and the U.S. Army’s largest Air Defense Artillery theater enabler, the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC). The 32nd AAMDC’s force has been absolutely pivotal in ensuring Patriot, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), and Short-Range Air Defense Units (SHORAD) units are ready to deploy around the world amid the calls to fortify Europe and support the efforts in the Russo-Ukrainian War. In doing so, America’s best air defenders in EUCOM can be equipped with the world’s best deterrent Army Air Defense systems, repositioned from the 32nd AAMDC Garrisons in the United States and reallocated from CENTCOM, who have executed decades of Middle East Mission Requirements with swift hastiness to meet the force requirements of providing defensive fires as necessary to support U.S. assets, allies, and partner nations.
In times of crisis for missile attacks which we are seeing exponentially growing in capacity and frequency due to lack of missile defenses, such as what just happened this weekend launched into Ukraine by Russia at the highest one day total of 84, as well as the unprovoked North Korean Ballistic Missiles fired over Japan last week, the United States Global Force Provider for Missile Defense systems is the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command garrisoned in Fort Bliss, Texas. The 32nd AAMDC is the preeminent Force Provider of Combat Proven and Combat Ready Missile Defense systems for the United States Army. The four brigades of the 32nd are; the “Imperial Brigade” 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade out of Fort Bliss, “Train to Fight”, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, “Ready and Vigilant” 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas, “Team of Winners”, and the “Spartan Brigade” 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade out of Fort Bragg, “Deeds Above Words!”. All told, the 32nd AAMDC is responsible for the training, equipping, and readiness of these organic formations. As the Global Force Provider, the command is responsible for providing ready formations to support numerous Department of Defense Worldwide Contingency Operational War Plans.
Each of these four brigades are equipped with several systems employing battalions and batteries with all 5 THAAD US based Batteries. There are 2 Patriot battalions in the 108th, 3 Patriot battalions and 2 THAAD batteries in the 69th, 4 Patriot battalions and 3 THAAD batteries in the 11th, and 2 Patriot Battalions and a CRAM Battalion in the 31st. U.S. Congress and the Army are looking to expand the 32nd AAMDC with the addition of new Patriot Battalions and THAAD Batteries. These four Army Air Defense Brigades under the 32nd Command have been enduring 9-to-12 month force and combat troop rotations in CENTCOM and the Middle East since 1998. Defending against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and UAVs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, and Israel. Starting in 1990 with the first air lift of Patriot from Fort Bliss Texas to Saudi Arabia for the first Patriot Combat shoot down in January 1991, the 32nd AAMDC has been in full deployment and continuous operations with the highest dwell time of all branches, which indicates the ratio of the length of time between deployments to war zones and time at home. These deployment options include its Contingency Expediency Force (CEF) out of Fort Bliss, which can mobilize 24/7 with strategic flexibility; with a Patriot and THAAD battery each ready to be airlifted and deployed anywhere in the world rapidly.
When Aegis Ashore of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to defend Europe from Iran entered into a cold status to conduct deliberately scheduled maintenance in Romania in 2019, the 32nd deployed a THAAD battery and personnel to operate it and keep force readiness continually at the ready. In addition and under the 11th ADA Brigade is the 3rd Battalion of the 43rd ADA Regiment which is the dedicated testing Battalion for all Army Missile Defense new developing capabilities accomplished across the Fort Bliss massive training areas and at the White Sands Missile Test Range. Today the 3-43 is prepping for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) Phase 3 test that is scheduled at the end of this month. The 32nd leads the number one combined exercise, Roving Sands, an annual three-week long joint air defense exercise held at Fort Bliss that focuses on providing a combat training evaluation and refining air defense skills in preparation for real world global response.
The 32nd AAMDC has consistently provided the warrior formations needed to surge around the globe. Based on current and recent events by Russia and North Korea, consideration must be given to forward stationing some of this capability, as well as relook the current deployment of Patriot Battalion requirements in the Middle East to Eastern Europe and the Pacific.
During my visit, we had the honor of recognizing the greatness of the 32nd AAMDC and the best of the best in each brigade for 2022 at Fort Bliss last week.
It is right to honor the courage and commitment of the true Patriots who have dedicated their professions to perfecting the art and science of Missile Defense. Their professionalism and expertise are unmatched and proven. They save lives and protect Nation States.
Beyond the written words that characterize National Security concepts, as released yesterday, Air and Missile Defense remain at the heart of Integrated Defense and Deterrence. For these true Patriots and for the honor of their profession, we must continue to invest in the right Missile Defense systems and put them into their capable hands as the Force Provider, knowing that there is an urgent need for missile defense and Missile Defense Wins the Peace.