News: Protecting the force
Story by Sgt. Jarred Woods
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Members of the 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Fort Campbell, Ky, in support of 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), have been tasked with the vital mission of protecting against the indirect fire (IDF) threat at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan here.
As certain Forward Operating Bases close down and personnel and assets are consolidated at central bases, such as BAF, the need to protect those resources becomes ever more imperative. The 2-44 utilizes the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) system to guard against IDF attacks.
The C-RAM capability is comprised of advanced targeting and networking systems coupled with a modified U.S. Navy Land-based Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS), said Lt. Col. Tim Shaffer, battalion commander for the 2nd Battalion, 44th ADAR.
This highly developed weapon system allows the 2-44 to effectively engage and intercept various munitions used by the enemy.
“The IDF threat has a high potential to become more significant as the enemy targets us here; tries to disrupt us and cause challenges to our operations,” added Shaffer. “The C-RAM allows us the freedom to maneuver and allows us the ability to protect our forces and equipment from IDF.”
The stateside mission of the 2-44 was utilization of the Avenger Air Defense System, which is vastly different from their current mission. Since being notified of their present deployment, many changes had to be made in order to meet the needs of the C-RAM mission here in theater.
“Since being notified of this deployment, we have reorganized, retrained, reequipped and deployed here to Afghanistan fully operational,” said Shaffer. “Our soldiers are very well trained, they’re alert, attentive and they know the importance of this mission and the criticality of protecting the force. The soldiers of this battalion are absolutely ready.”
Pre-deployment training for the soldiers of the 2-44 was fast paced, intense and designed to make each and every soldier capable of successfully operating and maintaining the C-RAM system.
“We had the absolute best instructors,” said Pfc. Shane Cotton, a LPWS operator with the 2-44. “Our noncommissioned officers did a great job making sure the soldiers understood the information. Within the amount of time we had before deploying, we did everything possible to be proficient on the weapon system.”
“We study hard every day and there is always something new to learn,” added Cotton. “What we’re doing here is absolutely necessary.”
The threat of enemy attacks are always a concern on BAF and other FOB’s throughout the theater of operations in Afghanistan. Yet, the service members and civilians on BAF can rest assured that the 2-44 is on the job.
“Our C-RAM mission provides a much safer environment for our forces and civilians in which to work and allows us to focus on the operations here without having to worry about the IDF threat,” said Shaffer. “We have the latest and greatest versions of this system and I’m confident in the system’s capability to defend against the threat for which it was designed.”