SOUTHWEST ASIA— There seemed to be a quietness all across the site. The dust was settled, vehicles were still and only an occasional Soldier could be seen walking from building to building.
All of that was about to change.
An ear-drum piercing alarm sounded across the site, sending all personnel into an alert status. A voice soon came across the loud speaker projecting commands sending the Soldiers into action.
A team ran out of a building with their helmets, gloves and other protective gear and dashed to their Humvee. The driver cranked on the clunky, desert-tan vehicle and, with a loud rumble, the team headed down to the Patriot Missile Launchers.
Even while deployed to U.S. Army Central’s area of operation, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, run drills to ensure they maintain the upper most readiness in the event their assets are needed.
On March 24, Crew 2, Battery B, 1-7th ADA Battalion, was running more than just an ordinary drill, they were participating in an operational readiness exercise.
“Our evaluators come on site this morning and we got a (surface-to-air-missile tactical order), which directed us to an alert state,” said 1st Lt. William Bohm, crew officer in charge, Crew 2, Battery B, 1-7th ADA Battalion. “When that happens, we send hot crew down range and power up all of our launchers. We simulate starting our missile heat so we can get it in accordance with the STO and ready to fight.”
As Bohm’s hot crew darted from launcher to launcher, the team inside the engagement control station was also hard at work with evaluators looking on.
Inside the ECS, data is processed for the firing battery. The Soldiers use the equipment to communicate between other Patriot and air defense artillery elements. They also process radar data while monitoring the operational status of the missile system components.
“While all this is happening, the ECP is also getting evaluated for their assumption piece,” said Bohm who originally hails from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. “They have to keep track of all the missiles we have hot at the time. They have to keep track of all the information and send up the reports to the (battalion’s information and coordination central).”
One other area is being evaluated during the ORE, maintenance. Preventive maintenance checks and services are an integral part of the Patriot mission.
“Maintenance is all about mission-capable equipment and their readiness,” said Pfc. John Rigsbee, tactical control assistant, Crew 2, Battery B, 1-7th ADA Battalion. “Ensuring everything is good-to-go, that way nothing can possibly fail if the time comes when we need it.”
During the ORE, Crew 2 scored perfect on maintenance.
While the crew trains over and over on Patriot assumption drills and are evaluated through OREs, there is also the professional development of the Soldiers, which adds to the operational readiness of the unit…