By Maj. Jonathan Stafford, Executive Officer, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense CommandApril 2, 2015
ANDERSEN AFB, Guam- April 4th, 2015 marks the two year anniversary for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) mission on Guam. This important homeland defense mission takes incredible dedication from the THAAD Soldiers. However the Task Force Talon enablers set the stage for the first forward deployed THAAD Battery and are vital to the continued success of the THAAD mission on Guam.
The 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command organized Task Force Talon to be the higher headquarters unit to provide important command and control (C2) and sustainment functions for the THAAD battery. The enablers that compose the Task Force include a signal detachment, security forces and a headquarters element.
"The enablers have been critical to sustaining this important homeland defense mission that Task Force Talon has been executing for the past two years," said Lt. Col. Clyde Cochrane, Task Force Talon commander.
The signal detachment, composed of 10 to 12 personnel from the 307th Signal Battalion, provides satellite maintenance and communications capabilities which are critical to the mission due to the austere location.
"This has been the most difficult mission as a Signal soldier that I have been part of due to the unique communications requirements of the THAAD battery," said Sgt. David Torres, 307th Sig. Bn. Soldier. "Despite the challenges our team has done a great job overcoming them to execute the Defense of Guam mission."
The THAAD battery is not assigned personnel to conduct site security so it requires an augmentation of security forces when it deploys. The SECFOR is responsible for perimeter security, entry control point operations, manning guard towers, site surveillance activities, and providing a quick reaction force.
"The mission has been different from one usually given to an infantry unit, but it has been great to be part of something so important in defense of fellow Americans here on Guam," said Sgt. 1st Class Chet Aki, First Sergeant of Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
Besides providing site security, the SECFOR is still required to conduct regular infantry specific training. Bravo Co. conducts regular live fires, squad movement-to-contact lanes, and jungle warfare training.
"Soldiers in B Co are proud to be a part of supporting a strategic level mission, and being here has given us the opportunity to focus on the development of our Soldiers," said Captain Daniel Stinnett, Commander, Co. B, 1-14th Inf. Reg. "We want our Soldiers to leave Guam having accomplished the mission, while maintaining their proficiencies and improving themselves."
The task force headquarters must provide all the functions expected of a battalion staff. The Task Force Talon staff is currently composed of six non-commissioned officers, five staff officers, a sergeant major and a lieutenant colonel.
"The expeditionary nature of this mission and the minimal number of staff has required the junior officers and NCOs to work well above their pay grade. This has provided a tremendous opportunity for leader and staff development, resulting in the ability for continued effective support for THAAD operations," said Cochrane.
The headquarters staff also handles all site improvements and hosts visitors to the site; which have included the Governor of Guam, Congressional delegations, Defense Department leaders and foreign dignitaries.
"The Signal, SECFOR, and headquarters personnel have clearly been critical to the successful execution of Task Force Talon's defense of Guam mission," said Cochrane.
The THAAD mission on Guam would not be possible without the enablers that make up Task Force Talon. These enablers demonstrate how future THAAD operations will require a holistic approach to deployment planning.