173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers secure NATO missile-defense sites

March 20, 2015

U.S. Army News:

VICENZA, Italy (March 19, 2015) — Paratroopers, from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, returned from NATO Operation Active Fence in Turkey, March 12.

Two weeks earlier, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, arrived in southern Turkey to relieve them.

“Operation Active Fence is the United States’ contribution to the NATO Patriot missile defense mission,” said Sgt. Ian Carlson, an intelligence analyst, with 1st Battalion. “We are the security forces tasked to guard the missile sites from outside threats.”

Operation Active Fence started in December 2012 in response to Turkey’s concerns over spillover and direct threats from the chaos on its border in Syria. In response, NATO authorized the deployment of Patriot missile defense batteries. The United States, Germany and the Netherlands provided initial forces. Spain has since replaced Dutch forces.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army’s contingency response force in Europe and has the ability to rapidly deploy paratroopers with specialized parachute infantry capabilities anywhere in the U.S., European, Africa and Central areas of operations.

“These paratroopers left out of here on short notice…succeeding where others failed,” said Lt. Col. Robert S. Brown, the commander of 2nd Battalion. “They went down [to Turkey] and showed what right looks like to both our allies and to NATO leaders.”

The U.S. paratroopers continue to improve on defense established by previous units and build upon developing the relationships and interoperability with their allies in the Turkish army’s 5th Armored Brigade, who they partner with for security at the sites.

“This mission demonstrates our ability to defend our NATO partner’s sovereign borders, shows our commitment to NATO and the defense of our allies,” said Capt. Michael C. Agbay, commander of the current security detail.

Paratroopers, from the 173rd Airborne, are scheduled to continue to deploy in support of Active Fence throughout the year to ensure the paratroopers remain sharp and engaged when conducting security operations.

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