Theodore Roosevelt once said 'Speak softly and carry a big stick.' This was his method of deterring aggression during the early 1900s.
In the 21st century, advanced weaponry like the Patriot Missile System has replaced the 'big stick.' These new systems require a highly technical level of training to relocate and reload under pressure.
To prepare for doing this, Soldiers with Battery A, 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery, practiced Patriot Missile Defense System emplacement and reloading procedures during an exercise, March 25. These drills aimed to ensure the safety and security of Soldiers across U.S. Army Central's area of responsibility by rehearsing how to quickly get the missile launcher back into the fight.
"We conducted a round-robin style mobility drill and reloading tactics. The Patriot Missile Defense System is a mobile weapon that can be moved to a new location and operational within hours," said Staff Sgt. Leandro Moreno, a master gunner with Battery A, 4-3 ADA and a native of Odessa, Texas. "As we practice the emplacement and reloading procedures of this weapon, we will maintain that level of competence that our Soldiers have developed."
"Being proficient with the emplacement of the Patriot Missile Defense system, will not only make the unit stronger, it will make our Soldiers safer," said Capt. Jessica Perales, the commander of Battery A, 4-3 ADA. "I want my Soldiers to provide the best safety and security they can, and to do that we need to be ready to pick up and move to a new location quickly."
The Army considers a one hour reload time of the Patriot system the minimum standard for effective battlefield readiness. The reload crews from Battery A intend to practice until they have that time chopped in half.
"We usually have the weapon system fully reloaded in under 45 minutes, but my crew has gotten this down to around 30 minutes consistently," said Sgt. Edward Han, a reload crew leader with Battery A, 4-3 ADA and a Stockton, California native. "We pride ourselves in the work that we do and the capabilities of this team. We are constantly practicing to stay as efficient and effective as we can with this weapons system."
The Center for Army Lessons Learned collects data from training exercises to help improve the military for future operations, but 4-3 ADA has taken this on themselves in an effort to improve the way they operate as quickly as possible.
"Everything we do, we record the lessons learned and make improvements on them, so we are continuously improving ourselves and the unit," said Perales, a Nashville, Tennessee native. "We will also be giving these lessons to the unit that replaces us to help them be the best they can be too."
During the training exercise, Maj. Gen. William Hickman, the Deputy Commanding General - Operations for USARCENT, stressed the importance of the Patriot systems to the Soldiers.
"The Soldiers are practicing war-time scenarios to make sure they are ready," said Hickman, a Columbia, Tennessee, native. "If we continue to hone our skills on the battlefield, we will stand ready to fight if tensions were to rise. USARCENT is here to assist in keeping the region safe and secure from any potential threat."