By Capt. Jonathon DaniellJuly 26, 2017
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- 'Fight tonight' readiness is the number one priority on the Korean Peninsula for the Eighth Army, and it must be maintained at all times.
Battery A, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, garrisoned out of Okinawa, Japan, got firsthand experience with that imperative as they provided ballistic missile defense in the Korean theater from March to May, in support of the Army's 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
"Defense of Kunsan Air Base is the primary mission for our unit," said Capt. David Endter, commander, Battery A, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment. "Alpha 1-1 effortlessly integrated into the mission set, and operated at a high level throughout their deployment."
Battery A, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment arrived in Korea in March with their equipment in tow, and contributed to the 35th Air Defense Artillery Patriot modernization effort by maintaining the 'fight tonight' mission.
The modernization allows the Patriot systems to leverage the newest technology, increase capabilities and improve overall functionality.
In addition to the systems receiving numerous upgrades, Soldiers belonging to Battery A will receive new equipment training to ensure they possess the knowledge to operate and employ the advanced capabilities, said Steven Knierim, Raytheon project manager.
This was not Battery A's first visit to the Korean Peninsula. In August 2016, the battery deployed to South Korea in a training capacity, and demonstrated their ability to defend Kunsan Air Base from both air-breathing and tactical ballistic missile threats.
"The deployment of our unit to Korea is two-fold; first, we are providing the Fight Tonight capability for 35th Brigade," said Capt. Joshua T. Mitchell, commander, Battery A, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment. "Second, it validates our readiness by proving we are capable of deploying to the Korean Peninsula and seamlessly integrating ... in order to provide air and missile defense."
The expeditionary capability of the Patriot batteries proves they are able to defend critical assets anywhere in the Pacific.
As Battery A, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment fulfilled their mission on the peninsula and boarded planes back to Okinawa, they were relieved by their sister battery, Battery B, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment. The two units completed a one for one exchange of equipment, and integrated into the 'fight tonight' mission to enable subsequent 35th Air Defense Artillery batteries to complete the Patriot modernization project.
Readiness and modernization remain fixtures among the Army's top priorities, both of which are initiatives the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is addressing as the brigade upgrades their Patriot fleet. Upon completion of the largest Patriot modernization project ever conducted outside a depot facility, the Dragon Brigade will operate with the most technological advanced equipment within the Air Defense Artillery community. Furthermore, the brigade will execute a comprehensive new equipment training cycle to maintain 'fight tonight' readiness throughout the transition.
(Editor's Note: This article is part of a three part series that will follow the modernization and readiness effort as it materializes.)