MIESAU, Germany -- Acting secretary the Army Robert Speers visited Coleman Barracks and Miesau Army Depot as part of a tour of European operations, May 8, to learn more about the services and capabilities in Europe.

With a focus on deterring aggression and the defense of Europe, the visit included the opportunity to watch Soldiers from 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command draw Patriot missiles from storage and load them onto the launchers as part of an exercise to measure how quickly they can deploy to multiple locations.

"This is the first time we have faced a near-peer competitor for a long time," Speers said. "With a near-peer competitor, air defense becomes necessary because we're not going to have the control of the air space like we used to. The role the missile defense and air defense plays will be critical in defending and deterring here in Europe."

After being briefed on the exercise and the unit's capabilities, Speers climbed on one of the launchers with the Soldiers to watch the loading process.

"Having the acting secretary here is a validation of the fact that we have an important job we are doing well," said 1st Lt. Isaac Murray, platoon leader, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

Drawing the missiles and loading the launchers was just one small part of the exercise. As a deterrence mission, the battalion measured their speed of assembly, or how quickly they can gather personnel and resources, in three ways.

"One, we created indicators and warnings that would cause the ammunition supply point to push missiles to two of our batteries," said Col. Jen Eickhoff, commander, 10th AAMDC. "That way if those batteries got an execute order, they could get on a plane, a boat, or drive through a bunch of countries to the east, and be ready to go."

"The second way we measured speed of assembly was we replicated if we did not have enough combat support logistic capabilities here in Europe," Eickhoff said. "What we replicated was sending a battery with only their organic equipment to the ASP to draw the missiles all on their own."

Those missiles, drawn and loaded onto launchers during Speers' visit, linked up with the rest of their battery at a defense site to test how quickly they could integrate into the network and be ready to fire.

The third measure the battalion used occurred concurrently with the ammo draw at Miesau.

"We pushed out a battery's worth of missiles to meet up with a unit that is over on Ramstein," Eickhoff said. "As the battery arrives, the missiles will arrive at the same time, and that young commander and battery have to figure out how to take the missiles, get them up on launchers and then get the unit ready to fire. It's never been done before here in Europe, and it's about measuring speed of assembly to ensure deterrence."