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    Air Defenders Embrace New Training and Technology

    Air Defenders Embrace New Training and Technology

    Photo By 1st Lt. James Lanza | CAMP BLANDING JOINT TRAINING CENTER, FLA - Soldiers from 164th ADA HHB erect newly...... read more read more



    Story by 2nd Lt. James Lanza 

    164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade

    Faced with increased mobilizations and shifting strategic priorities from the Executive branch through the Dept. of Defense, the 164th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade has embraced a new training regime and new technology intended to keep its air defenders a step ahead of emerging threats. With the aim of operating in any environment and exerting command and control over a variety of ADA assets not organic to their unit, this renewed look on training has Soldiers focused on honing field craft and adapting leaders to new systems and new technologies.

    Looking at the challenges faced by other ADA units in Europe and South Korea, the 164th has refocused its training and tactics in anticipation of future mobilizations around the world.

    “The ADA Branch is undergoing an enormous transformation. Within the next several years, all ADA brigades will have to learn how to integrate the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) Patriot and Avenger weapon systems,” said Lt. Col. Brian Smith, Deputy Commander for the Brigade Mission Command Element. “ADA Brigades will also have to learn how to command and control units incorporating a multitude of new and unfamiliar technologies soon to be realized, such as lasers, space-based sensors and a complex computer system to integrate them all.”

    This growing need to integrate fires systems has led the Brigade to send 12 Soldiers through the new Patriot Training Program. This course, pioneered by the South Carolina Army National Guard, is designed to educate staff members on capabilities, limitations and employment principles of Patriot weapon system in order to better integrate missile defense assets. Additionally, it prepares ADA Fire Control Officers with the foundational knowledge to reduce the effectiveness of hostile air and missile threats, while reducing the potential for possible fratricide.

    “These near peer threats that have emerged in the past few years have forced us to focus our efforts on adaptability and integration. That’s the guiding purpose for these courses,” said Capt. Jordan Pagones, Future Operations Officer for the 164th ADA BDE.

    The need to become adaptable in the face of uncertainty has led to increased focus on operating in the field under austere conditions. For most ADA units, this means more time living out of their vehicles, more time in fighting positions, and more time preparing for a mission they haven’t trained for in over ten years.

    “During our missions in the National Capital Region we became accustomed to static, laid out positions with well-defined timelines, and now we're training to combat unmanned aerial systems, rotary wing aircraft in a totally different environment,” said Capt. Eric Grant, Bravo Battery Commander, 1-265th ADA. “This coming rotation to Europe has exposed us to a mission where we will be prepared for anything, anywhere.”

    While new training for staff members and increased field time has been at the forefront of the units’ efforts to keep ahead of emerging threats, Soldiers have also become familiarized with new equipment designed to increase their mobility and survivability while deployed. New pieces of equipment, ranging from radar pieces to tents, and GPS, systems have poured into the units, with the goal of making them more agile while overseas.

    “We just received a new tent to house our Tactical Operations Center, which inflates itself within minutes of unfolding,” said Pfc Mitchel Thomas, a Signal Support Systems Specialist with the 164th ADA BDE. “Putting it up and tearing it down from start to finish is faster, which means we can move around the battlefield more quickly.”

    With increased field time, more training, and more mobilizations, comes growing pains for some, but for many others, the new environment brings added benefits.

    “All this training gives us an understanding of what it really takes to keep an ADA brigade running, which is pivotal to mobilizations,” said Pagones. “At the end of the day, this is all about ensuring we’re a capable and lethal force. That’s what all this training boils down to.”



    Date Taken: 02.10.2019
    Date Posted: 02.12.2019 08:16
    Story ID: 310393
    Location: ORLANDO, FL, US 

    Web Views: 261
    Downloads: 0