Dear Members and Friends,
This week in Fort Bliss, Texas, the birthplace of U.S. Army missile defense, Air Defense Artillery (ADA) legend Lt General Jack Costello was honored at the dedication of the new headquarters of the United States First Armor Division “Old Ironsides”. The only heavy armored division left in the U.S. Army, “Old Ironsides” has moved back from Germany after 68 years of campaigns in three wars, beginning with the 1943 landing in Tunisia, North Africa in World War II and ending with Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lt Gen Jack Costello is the nexus between Air Defense and Armor branches, where he served in commands in both, but his legacy and actions secured both Fort Bliss and U.S. Army missile defense to be where they are today with the United States Army. Costello Hall at Fort Bliss, Texas will bear his inspiration to all that pass through these Headquarters in command of Fort Bliss and the First Armored Division “Old Ironsides”.
Though the massive amount of forces, structures, and over 40,000 armor personnel that the First Armored Division brings are now embedded at Fort Bliss, missile defense, at just a tenth of the size, remains equally steadfast and valued by the United States military. It is to be noted that 14 ADA battalions out of 17 in the U.S. military and the two newest THAAD batteries are commanded from Fort Bliss by the 32nd Army Air Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) headquartered there. The 32nd AAMDC is the provider of U.S. missile defense capability globally and to the Central Combat Command of the Middle East. The 32nd AAMDC is made up of four two-battalion brigades: The 11th Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas that includes the two new THAAD batteries coming on line, the 31st Brigade at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and Fort Lewis, Washington, the 69th Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, and the 108th Brigade at Fort Brag, North Carolina. Each brigade consists of four firing batteries, with approximately six launchers in each battery. The 32nd is constantly deployed in the Middle East along the Western edges of the Persian Gulf with the remaining bulk of its forces located in the United States, allowing it immediate access and capability to reinforce or deploy two U.S. ADA battalions from the U.S. globally quickly, as well as to reset its forces in preparation for the next deployment.
One of the two primary hottest spots in the world relying on missile defense for de-escalation, peace, deterrence, and stability is in South Korea, where the quantity, size, and provocation of North Korean forces are a constant threat to South Korea and U.S. Forces stationed there. This requires missile defense assets that can withhold more than a first wave of attack and provide the critical protection of U.S. air power stationed there. The second escalating hot spot is Iran, specifically the deterrence, stabilization, and de-escalation of an Iranian reaction to a plausible Israeli pre-emptive strike directed at Iran that could cause Iran to target U.S. Forces in response. These U.S. forces are stationed as close as 100 miles throughout the Persian Gulf and provide critical air, sea, and land power from these bases in maintaining peace and stability in the region. The quantity of Iranian short- to medium-range missiles continues to grow and with it, the technologies to enhance, hide, and force protect these assets. This requires U.S. missile defenses to defend against more than just an initial wave of multiple missiles and to have layers of defense in order to deter and provide protection of U.S. forces in the region, which would provide the ultimate deterrence due the offensive U.S. capability left intact.
U.S. Army missile defense provides a layer of terminal defense as it integrates with U.S. Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense in these regions, who provide an additional extended layer of defense in defending both regional assets and homelands for these nations under threat. Both of these active U.S. service missile defense systems will endeavor to play into protecting the U.S. Homeland in the future from short- to medium-range ballistic missiles.
For these reasons, U.S. and allied missile defense capabilities will continue to grow in need, deployment, and development. It is a testament to missile defense that while the overall U.S. military is shrinking in tough economic times ahead, missile defense is expanding in its importance, capability, and value for our future and national security.
It was with honor and great respect that MDAA attended the Costello Hall dedication ceremony at the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Headquarters this week to be with U.S. Army soldiers and officers from the Air Defense Artillery branch and U.S. Army Iron Soldiers from “Old Ironsides”.
We serve with honor
We serve with pride
We’re proud to be
Our Nation’s tank force
The first AD
With that Iron Patch
Worn on my sleeve
I join with those who
Fight for Liberty
For peace we strive