Let the Iron Horse Run

June 20, 2012

Dear Members and Friends,

On dead end tracks off the Imjin River, Korea, less than a mile from the North Korean border lies an old locomotive called the ‘Iron Horse’. It is a symbolic monument to the Korean people for the reunification of their country, divided by civil war. The original ‘Iron Horse’ tattered, weathered and shelled from the brutalities of war, was the primary transportation between the North and the South of the once unified Korea.

Just off the tarmac of the Korean Air Force Base in Suwon, 50 miles south of the Imjin River and the DMZ, is the command headquarters of the United States Army 6-52 Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Patriot Battalion.  This command oversees multiple Patriot firing Batteries and a Avenger Battery, deployed in the U.S. Osan Air Force Base, Republic of Korea Suwon Air Force Base and U.S. Army Camp Casey near the DMZ, all defending Korean air space from North Korean ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft and UAVs. The 6-52 battalion was first stationed in Korea on June 28th, 1950 as an Artillery Battalion of the 24th U.S. Infantry Division. It has a historic past through the Korean War of receiving U.S. President and Republic of Korean President Citations. The 6-52 ADA Battalion is appropriately named the “Iron Horse”.

A firing battery of a U.S. Patriot ADA unit such as from the 6-52,  is completely mobile and includes a Patriot Radar, fire control, power, communications and a combination of launchers that fire multiple PAC 3, PAC 2 and GEM-T missiles. Patriot Missile Defense can track, put together firing solutions, and intercept incoming multiple targets at altitudes high in the atmosphere on the terminal phase of multiple reentry ballistic warhead missiles. Neither explosive charge nor fragmentation is required for interception; using kinetic energy for a metal on metal contact using physics in closing high velocities together. 6-52 ADA road or air mobile Patriot firing batteries are deployed at Osan AFB and Suwon AFB with the capability to “jump” to other designated locations.

Air Defense, including intercepting UAVs; is a critical component to maneuvering U.S. Army forces of the 8th Army in Korea deployed near the DMZ.  Attached to the 6-52 is an Avenger Battery made up of multiple firing units that use mobile Avenger platforms, a radar, command/control and stinger missiles to intercept air-breathing threats to the U.S. Army forces stationed in Camp Casey, Korea.

In addition, the 6-52 ‘Iron Horse’ shares space on the Korean Air Force Base under the request and command of the Republic of Korea, to defend their base and the Korean civilian population nearby. The 6-52 ‘Iron Horse’ has a unique and important role of working continual operational partnerships with the Republic of Korea Air Force and its U.S. Patriot and Avenger Systems to better enable them in their joint missile defense goals.

The nearly 600 men and women of the U.S. Army that serve for the 6-52 are from across our nation and play an absolute vital role in preserving peace in this region and preventing conflict with North Korea only 50 miles north of them. A selfless serving role for our nation that each play in working together as a joint team in a joint fight that could happen any night from an overwhelming and extremely outnumbered, unpredictable enemy that has chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. It is a “We Fight Tonight” environment that our Military men and women stationed in Korea live in day to day. Their role close to Artillery range from North Korea, could be the first to be fired upon and the first to fire shows; their value in restraining the Republic of Korea, the United States and even China in preventing a full scale military conflict in retaliation from a provocation of North Korea. These Soldiers and the 6-52 ADA battalions’ vital role ensures defense of both U.S. and Korean Offensive Air Force capability to strike with persistence and power helps to change the North Korean calculus of a decision to provoke or attack. The 6-52 ADA in these missions must have as much capability in inventory of interceptors and launchers, as well as training enablers to include better personnel rotation as our Nation can afford. The soldiers of the 6-52 ADA Battalion’s sacrifice is absolutely commendable and greatly appreciated by the Republic of Korea and its citizens as well as our deployed Armed Forces there and our public back home.

It is serendipitous that the 6-52 ADA Battalion is the ‘Iron Horse’, a symbolic working testament and living monument to the Korean people for their hope of peace.

On behalf of our membership and the American public that support missile defense, it was a true honor and privilege to meet and recognize the Soldiers of the 6-52 ADA Battalion deployed in the ROK Suwon AFB, Camp Casey and the U.S. Osan AFB.
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