By Sgt. Daniel Cole, U.S. Army Europe Public AffairsDecember 3, 2013
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (Dec. 3, 2013) -- Approximately 250 Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe's 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, flew from here Dec. 2 to begin an estimated year-long deployment to Turkey.
Two Patriot missile batteries from the 5-7th are replacing members of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd ADA, from Fort Sill, Okla., who have been fulfilling the U.S. commitment to the mission in the Turkish city of Gaziantep since last December. Patriot batteries from Germany and the Netherlands are taking part in the mission as well, from bases at other sites in Turkey.
"The key part of this mission is that it is an air missile defense mission to protect Turkey from any type of ballistic missile or aerial threats into the country," said Col. Gregory Brady, 10th AAMDC's commander. That NATO mission is intended to augment the Turks' air defense capabilities at the request of the Turkish government.
Brady also expressed the importance of maintaining relationships with multinational partners such as Turkey. He said an additional key part of the mission is to strengthen the already strong relationship U.S. and Turkish forces have shared for decades.
The battalion is ready to continue the mission, said 5-7th ADA Command Sgt. Maj. Steve Burnley.
Unit officials said the battalion continually prepares and trains to remain ready for such assignments. Preparations for the expected extension began well before Turkey made its official request to its NATO partners to continue the mission, due to continued concerns over violence in neighboring Syria.
While the mission is priority, leaving home and family behind during the holiday season is a difficult task that many of the younger Soldiers and junior officers will experience for the first time.
"It is very difficult, especially during the holiday season, but we have a resilient bunch of Soldiers and we have had great support," said Lt. Col. Lisa Bartel, 5-7th ADA battalion commander.