AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates (Nov. 1, 2018) -- 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery, currently deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), consistently seeks to improve its partnership with the Emirati armed forces.

The battalion facilitated several events to increase coordination and cooperation, including a partnership palm tree planting ceremony, cultural sharing events, a combined noncommissioned officer induction ceremony and numerous key leader engagements. Also, the battalion facilitated an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA) with the UAE. Through these events, mutual trust extends with a common goal of enhancing security throughout the region.

In June, 3-2nd ADA celebrated the 50th birthday of the Air Defense Artillery branch with an event-filled day. Having just celebrated its 100 days in theater, the battalion's command team took the opportunity to express its commitment to its host nation partners.

The "Lethal Strike" battalion's Soldiers hosted a U.S./UAE palm tree planting ceremony June 20 at their headquarters to symbolize the allied partnership between the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Lts. Col. Pedro Camacho, 3-2nd ADA commander, and Hamad S. Al Yammah, UAE 4th Battalion deputy commander, planted the palm tree, demonstrating the mutual efforts between the nations.

"Our partnership tree planting event symbolizes the deep and strong-rooted partnership shared between our two countries. It commemorates the past years of U.S. and UAE relations, which provides stability and prosperity to the region. I am humbled of the opportunity to honor our U.S. and Emirati leaders of the past who have planted the seed for us leaders of today to continue to grow and strengthen with intent to deter future aggression from our adversaries," said Camacho. "We will continue to work together as partners to promote regional stability, enhance our combat readiness and develop our leaders while maintaining a 'ready now' posture in defense of our assigned Patriot-defended assets."

The day of celebration ended with a traditional cake-cutting ceremony, provided by the Army Windy's Dining Facility. Camacho and Al Yammah cut the air defense artillery birthday cake together, further symbolizing the units' cohesion. After the events ended, battalion members began planning for the noncommissioned officer induction ceremony.

A few months later, to further enhance partnership between the 3-2nd ADA and the UAE 4th Patriot Battalion, 3-2 ADA together held the NCO induction ceremony Aug. 29. The ceremony is a tradition in which new NCOs are formally recognized as members of the corps. This year's ceremony included the Lethal Strike Battalion's Emirati Armed Forces counterparts.

The induction of the Emirati NCOs alongside American NCOs is the first of its kind, demonstrating the ongoing partnership between the armed forces and the commitment of the battalion to enhance and build partnerships. A total of 26 NCOs from both nations were formally inducted into the Corps of the Noncommissioned Officer.

"The NCO induction ceremony is a time-honored tradition where we recognize the achievements of the newly inducted Soldiers and welcome them to the corps. During the ceremony, the Soldier crosses the line of authority, symbolizing the transition from a junior enlisted Soldier to a noncommissioned officer leader with inherent authorities to lead, train, and care for their assigned Soldiers, families, and equipment," said 3-2nd ADA operations Sgt. Maj. Quinnus Caldwell.

"As a noncommissioned officer, we are charged with ensuring such traditions are maintained and passed on to the next generation of Soldiers. It is always a great day when you can bring the unit together and highlight the achievements of a great group of professionals. The day was extra special because we were able to share this event with our host nation partners to further strengthen our bond and partner capacity," Caldwell said.

One of the battery first sergeants in charge of the event also gave his perspective of the first U.S. and Emirati partnered event.

"The NCO induction ceremony formally recognizes the accomplishments and advancement of a Soldier into the leadership ranks and is imposed on each sergeant as they recite the Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer and the NCO Charge at the end. It is more evident as you listen to select junior enlisted Soldiers recite the 'Soldier's Request' to the newly inducted sergeants," said 1st Sgt. Justin Phillips, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3-2nd ADA.

"The joining of our Emirati partners builds on our partner capacity with our host nation and supports our leadership development initiative with sharing the importance of our NCO corps within our organization," he continued. "Our partners were very impressed and proud to be a part of this historical event. They gained a better appreciation of the meaning of the NCO being the 'backbone' of the Army and observed the relationship shared between officers and noncommissioned officers."

The outcome of prioritizing the relationship between the U.S. and Emirati forces is evident in the direct partnership in regard to maintenance. The "Lethal Strike" Battalion has a close partnership with the Emiratis, demonstrated within the ACSA between the nations.

"The agreement allows the unit to swap and exchange parts," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Benjamin Hazlett, battalion readiness center officer-in-charge, who supervises the battalion's systems maintenance program.

"Through ACSA, the battalion has exchanged mission-critical parts allowing both countries to maintain protection of their assigned critical assets," Hazlett said. "The 3-2nd Lethal Strike Battalion has reached out through several events including the air defense artillery birthday celebration and a tree-planting ceremony to honor our country's long partnership with the Emiratis."

The Emirati military, at the guidance of Brig. Engineer Gen. Mohammed Al Hanee, invited the 3-2nd ADA commander and maintenance warrant officers to tour their military's maintenance facilities Aug. 8. In confirmation of the close-knit partnership and trust of the two units, the Emirati maintenance team offered its facility to the 3-2nd ADA to use for select maintenance as needed.

"This new avenue of parts repair and troubleshooting can cut cost and time delays tremendously for Patriot units assigned to UAE," said Hazlett.

With programs such as the ACSA in place to enhance partnership, both nations are dedicated to a future of cooperation.

The coordination through the ACSA program shows the direction of the continued partnership of the two nations as they seek greater fidelity within their missions.