Joint training
A C-17 flies overhead while Soldiers of the 4th Battalion 3rd Air Defense Artillery exercise battle drills just as they would downrange.

Altus, Okla. - Training on Altus Air Force Base in 71-degree weather is a walk in the park for two Patriot missile batteries from Fort Sill that have been out in the field for much of an excruciatingly hot summer.

A and B Batteries, 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery (ADA), sent a small reconnaissance unit to Altus last Wednesday, and the main body of approximately 250 soldiers went over Thursday for a five-day training event designed to test communications between multiple battery sites and dispersed equipment. Their communications were with C and D Batteries back at Fort Sill, and the Headquarters Battery is divided between the two locations, according to Maj. Jay Taylor, public affairs officer for the 31st ADA Brigade.

"It's mostly command and control functionality. It's how the brigade is interacting with the battalion and how the battalion is interacting with the batteries. It's just a matter of getting the right information to the right people at the right time," Taylor said.

B Battery commander Capt. Travis Tripp said the past six months have been extremely busy for 4-3 ADA.

"Basically, every single month we've been in the field for probably two weeks at a time," he said. "This is a lot nicer, the weather. Anything under 90 is pretty nice."

Tripp said the Air Force has been great to the Fort Sill soldiers.

"They've actually opened up anything that we needed - the gym, they've given us areas to take showers, they know we like to do PT a lot so the whole road we're able to run at any time of the day or night," Tripp said.

"This is a great plot of land that they gave us, so we couldn't ask for anything more."
Tripp said he's deployed to Air Force bases before, but this is his first time to do a Patriot missile training exercise on a stateside airbase.

Tripp and A Battery Commander Capt. Brad Hayes graduated from Patriot "Top Gun" school together, worked in the brigade headquarters together, and each took command of their respective batteries in September 2010. They received all their equipment in December and began their trainup. Their soldiers did a capstone event in April to demonstrate they knew how to use the equipment, and they began all their table training to demonstrate they know how to do their jobs. Their Table 8 certification was in June, and right after that they did a joint exercise that simulated operations with the Air Force and the Navy.

In July the battalion deployed to Fort Bliss, Texas, for a Patriot live fire exercise. Each of 4-3 ADA's four batteries fired three rounds, as did one ADA element from Fort Bragg, N.C., and the German Air Force Detachment at Fort Bliss.

Now the two batteries are bivouacked side by side at Altus, in conditions that mimic what they would do meant of equipment over to Altus AFB, and they set up their logistical supply area (LSA) in one day. The LSA is what houses all the soldiers, and it includes a battery command post that's tied in with the battalion commander and the rest of the battalion back at Fort Sill, he explained.

The Patriot system is part of 4-3 ADA's gunnery program, and Hayes said the soldiers have become so proficient at setting up the equipment that they can do that in one hour.
"This is the event that says, yes, you can do your wartime mission, if the Army decides to call upon us," Hayes said.

The A Battery commander called this "a great opportunity for us to get outside of Fort Sill. We spend so much time out on those ranges and soldiers see the aircraft flying around, so this was a great partnership for us to team up. If a mission does happen, we have a lot of deployable assets and things like that, so it's a good training event for soldiers to work with their joint brethren ... Folks at the battalion and the brigade did an awesome job of working with the base leadership, getting this all put together."

"I have a good base of strong leadership, strong NCOs (non-commissioned officers), and I kind of look at it as a good thing because the privates haven't learned the wrong way of doing business and we've been able to teach them the right way," Tripp said.

On this exercise, they're learning exactly what they'd need to know if they were going on an actual deployment overseas, he said.

"We're not exactly sure what they're going to throw at us, but that's good, because that trains our leaders and helps us to maintain adaptive leaders no matter what issue may come up," he said.

The primary role of a Patriot missile battery is to serve as a defensive asset against both tactical and ballistic missiles and air threats, Hayes explained. His Alpha Battery soldiers brought their full complement of equipment over to Altus AFB, and they set up their logistical supply area (LSA) in one day. The LSA is what houses all the soldiers, and it includes a battery command post that's tied in with the battalion commander and the rest of the battalion back at Fort Sill, he explained.

The Patriot system is part of 4-3 ADA's gunnery program, and Hayes said the soldiers have become so proficient at setting up the equipment that they can do that in one hour.

"This is the event that says, yes, you can do your wartime mission, if the Army decides to call upon us," Hayes said.

The A Battery commander called this "a great opportunity for us to get outside of Fort Sill. We spend so much time out on those ranges and soldiers see the aircraft flying around, so this was a great partnership for us to team up. If a mission does happen, we have a lot of deployable assets and things like that, so it's a good training event for soldiers to work with their joint brethren ... Folks at the battalion and the brigade did an awesome job of working with the base leadership, getting this all put together."

Page last updated Thu October 27th, 2011 at 13:58