It’s Hi-Hi-Hey! The Army’s On Its Way

May 28, 2008

Dear Members and Friends,

On Wednesday May 28th in El Paso, Texas at Fort Bliss, headquarters of the United States Army Air Defense Command, Brigadier General Robert Woods, Commanding General of the Army Air Missile Defense Command presided over the historic activation of the Alpha Battery, 4th Air Defense Regiment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD). This advanced missile defense system developed and tested over the past 15 years was officially transferred from the Missile Defense Agency to the United States Army as a fully operational working unit.

Brig Gen Woods stated in his remarks that THAAD will change the way we fight as the defensive system crosses the borders between theater and strategic. Brig Gen Woods further stated “Infinitely, one of the best weapon systems that the US military has produced, as we need this defensive capability.”

The beginning of the THAAD concept came after the first Iraq Gulf War in 1992 where scud missiles were used against the U.S. and its allies.  Since 2005, THAAD has had 8 successful flight tests and has had 4 for 4 ballistic missile intercepts. The United States government has procured two THAAD batteries with 48 defensive interceptor missiles which will be in the field by 2009. Additionally the United States government has procured two more THAAD units with 40 interceptors that will arrive in 2010 with future 5 and 6 batteries most likely to follow.

Debate on where these THAAD batteries will be deployed involves whether to base them in the United States for mobility to areas of crisis or to deploy them in U.S. bases overseas or in friendly foreign countries near current crisis regions such as the Far East and the Middle East.  Because of the proven value and security these THAAD batteries provide to defend an entire country or very large regions, countries that may receive them will want them permanently.  The United States military is looking at three specific places for the first two THAAD batteries:  Fort Bliss, Texas, for global flexibility and mobility; Guam for North Korean ballistic missile threats and Israel for Iranian ballistic missile threats.   U.S Combat Commanders have demonstrated a strong interest in having THAAD batteries deployed in their areas of responsibility throughout the world.

The more THAAD batteries are procured and deployed, the safer our troops and allies will be as this defense system integrates, fills a void,  and adds another layer to the already existing deployed missile defense systems of the land based Patriot 3s, the sea based Aegis SM3s and the long-range ground-based interceptors.  Deployment of these systems stabilizes regions of the world and provides additional options so that our leaders will not be forced to use military force and American lives.

The United States Congress this year in both the Senate and the House of Representatives has added additional funding to the 2009 Defense Budget to procure more THAAD batteries and interceptors.  Representing Congress, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes (D) recognized this historic achievement to the representatives of the THAAD team from the U.S. Army, MDA and industry.  As the most influential and leading Congressional champion of THAAD, Representative Reyes discussed the challenges in the development and testing of this system that were overcome making it clear that this system will make a difference now and in the future to our men and women in the armed forces and it will make our country safer.

It was of great honor for MDAA to witness this achievement at Fort Bliss and to congratulate those that built and developed the system and to the soldiers of the Alpha Battery, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment who will take and use THAAD around the globe where ballistic missiles threaten our nation, our troops and our allies.

First to Fight for the right
And to build the nation’s might
And the Army goes rolling along

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Curtis Stiles - Chief of Staff