By Capt. William Leasure, 35th ADA Brigade Public AffairsFebruary 16, 2016
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (Feb. 16, 2016) -- Soldiers assigned to E Battery, 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, deployed with their assigned air defense systems across the Korean Peninsula to support 6-52 ADA's recent battalion field training exercise, Feb. 8-19, 2016.
Typically, when a battery deploys to support a battalion exercise, it's business as usual but this deployment is unique. E Battery, 6-52 ADA is not your typical air defense unit.
The Soldiers of E Battery, employ the Avenger Missile System and Sentinel Radar, a short-range air defense system designed to detect and intercept low-altitude enemy aircraft.
While the rest of 6-52 ADA utilizes the Patriot Missile System in the course of their ballistic missile defense mission at Osan and Suwon Air Bases; E Battery, 6-52 ADA is headquartered at Camp Casey and attached to 210th Fires Brigade.
Maj. Emerito Tiotuico, 6-52 ADA's Operations Officer, helped coordinate this multi-layered air defense training exercise.
"The Avenger and Sentinel integration provided an opportunity to train as a composite battalion, delivering both high and low altitude air and missile defense of critical assets," Tiotuico said.
"Our goal for the exercise is to provide a common operating picture by integrating the Sentinel sensor into the battalion's network, and establishing a command and control process to counter low altitude threats."
Upon arriving at Osan Air Base, the Soldiers of E Battery, 6-52 ADA found themselves training on a bluff overlooking the airfield. Many of the Soldiers had never trained on their wartime mission before.
"This was the first time we have been able to dedicate two solid weeks to training on our mission," 2nd Lt. Jonathan Day, platoon leader with E Battery, 6-52 ADA said. "While our platoon has grown more cohesive during this exercise, we have also been able to simulate the defense of critical assets at multiple locations."
With their Avenger Missile System and Sentinel Radars emplaced, Soldiers trained under the watchful eyes of their non-commissioned officers.
"This field training exercise actually gets our Soldiers into a full hands-on training scenario and they are seeing all systems in operation plus connecting with other military occupational specialties," Sgt. Elijah Walker, a radio operator/maintainer, said. "We are short-range air defenders connecting with Patriot operators and getting a lot of good cross-training, which is something we don't really get in advanced individual training."
During training, the turret of an Avenger Missile System swiveled as Soldiers offered encouragement and shared knowledge many of them had only recently learned at Army Initial Training.
"This is the first time in my career I have ever conducted training like this," Pfc. Eli Schaap, an air and missile defense crewmember from Holland, Michigan said. "I'm really getting a chance these two weeks to see how Patriot fills the gap in air defense between the Avenger System."
As the Avenger postured to engage enemy aircraft, the Sentinel Radar System scanned the surrounding air space for the telltale signs of aircraft called "tracks".
"This training exercise has been intense," Pvt. Drake Horton, an air defense battle management system operator from Germantown, Maryland, said. "I've learned how to turn 'tracks' into enemy or friendly aircraft and, although the training has been tough, it has really prepared me for my wartime mission."
The Soldiers' readiness was facilitated by their unit leadership's commitment to preparation.
"We conducted deep maintenance on our equipment leading up to this exercise," Day said. "We focused on getting the crew drills right from missile and machine gun reloads, to leader development sessions run by experienced [noncommissioned officers]. Our Soldiers came prepared to execute this mission."
The Soldiers of E Battery will follow up this training exercise with an Avenger live fire exercise in late March at Chulmae Live Fire Complex near Daecheon Beach.