Counter-attack System Brings Soldiers, Sailors Together
Petty Officer 1st Class Jason M. Richards, a fire controlman, and Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel L. Watts, a fire controlman, both with the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery out of Fort Bliss, Texas, 90th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), troubleshoot a counter-rocket, artillery and mortar system Dec. 1 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Watts, a Munford, Ala., native, and Richards, a San Diego native, are both part of a team that maintains one of the C-RAMs in Joint Base Balad.

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The counter-rocket, artillery and mortar system brings Navy and Army personnel together, as they work to ensure the safety of the service members at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

First Sgt. Charles T. Ragsdale Jr., with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery out of Fort Bliss, Texas, 90th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said the biggest obstacle Soldiers and Sailors had to overcome in their mission was understanding the differences between the two different branches.

"We've come together and built one cohesive team," said Ragsdale, an Atlanta native. "[I] couldn't have asked for a better set of Sailors to work with Soldiers."

He said the service members' mindsets varied initially, but they have come together to understand the mission.

The unit was formed late last summer at Fort Bliss, where the Navy began training with the Army prior to the deployment, practicing live fire and combat skills as a team, he said.

Petty Officer 1st Class Edward L. Lorts, a fire controlman with the HHB 3-3 ADA, C-RAM seven, and a Chicago native, said he learned how to use Navy equipment on the ground in Iraq.

"I'm a technician, a maintainer," he said. "The weapon system has a lot of maintenance to make sure everything runs smoothly and my job is to ensure the maintenance gets completed."

Lorts said if a system goes down, he trouble shoots it to get it back online in a timely manner.

"I feel our job is very important; ensuring the safety of everybody on this base is a key," he said. "With this equipment on this base, people can go about their daily jobs or routines, feeling a little bit safer that they don't have to worry about incoming mortars or other [indirect fire]."

Sgt. Brandon E. Breed, battle noncommissioned officer in the Engagement Operations Center with the HHB 3-3 ADA, and a Flint, Mich., native, said his team is the primary unit responsible for confirming possible threats. Other sections give warnings through the tower speakers, instructing service members to take defensive action when an IDF attack occurs, he said.

"I'm the person that acknowledges the incoming attack," he said.

Breed said the unit works to avoid complacency, because attacks are unpredictable and their alerts are imperative to the safety of service members at JBB.

Ragsdale said the Soldiers and Sailors are proud to come together for this mission.

"I think their favorite part of the job is just a sense that they have a piece in the protection of [JBB]," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16