JLENS unit uncases colors
Capt. Gilberto Malave, battery commander, Alpha Battery, 3rd Air Defense Artillery (JLENS) and his Soldiers stand at parade rest with the unit's freshly uncased colors during the Guidon Uncasing Ceremony at the APG North (Aberdeen) recreation center ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The arrival of Alpha Battery, 3rd Air Defense Artillery (ADA) was made official, Aug. 18, during the unit's Guidon Uncasing Ceremony at the APG North (Aberdeen) recreation center.

The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS is a system of two aerostats (blimps), or tethered airships, that float 10,000 feet in the air. Each, nearly as long as a football field, will carry powerful radars capable of detecting, tracking and targeting missiles and rockets up to 340 miles away. Aerostats have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this is JLENS' first use in the mainland United States; though other blimps have been used and tested around the nation.

Lt. Col. Charles L. Matallana, 2-6 ADA battalion commander and 2-6 ADA Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin K. Enoch uncased the unit colors officially establishing the unit at APG. Assisting was Col. James P. Payne, commander of the 30th ADA Brigade and 30th ADA Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas L. Eagan.

Guests included Maj. Gen. Glen A. Bramhall, commander of the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command and 263rd AAMDC Command Sgt. Maj. James J. Wilbanks; Gary Martin, deputy to APG Senior Leader and commander of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford; APG Garrison Commander Col. Gregory McClinton and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Adams.

Matallana said that after months of testing, the unit's successful execution and deployment of JLENS was due to the efforts of its Soldiers and Family members. He said the day marked the arrival of an opportunity for one of the Army's most technologically advanced units, noting successful fire control mission tests and live fire exercises undertaken prior to the unit's arrival in Maryland.

JLENS testing began in 2012 at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico and also occurred at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah in 2013. During the next three years JLENS will be tested on how well it can integrate with existing infrastructure. Matallana, said that in his opinion, results have already proven that the JLENS will have no issues integrating with Army systems as well as with sister services.

Noting that throughout the required testing, exercises and deployments, Family members dealt with loneliness, isolation and stress, he credited the chain of command and Soldier and Family support elements with the unit's success.

"That is what makes us Army Strong," he said, adding that Family members "endured for their Soldiers and for this country."